The artist and the city: transforming urban decay into vibrant art

I am a railroad worm burrowed in a juicy Macintosh.  If you haven’t figured it out, I am currently on vacation in NYC!

The city, it seems, is the capital of tile art.  It is everywhere, particularly in the subway.  Many of the art pieces are commissions courtesy of the MTA Arts for Transit program and seen by hundreds of thousands of city-dwellers and tourists.  Such pieces are in the New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad, and Long Island Rail Road.

The MTA website states, “As the MTA rehabilitates subway and commuter rail stations through its Capital Program, it uses a portion of the funds to install permanent works of art.” It is a great program, encouraging work by both established and unknown artists.  I love when groups utilize art in public spaces.  Nothing improves a walk through a city quite like tile art.  It is beneficial for all parties – the city, the artist, and pedestrians.  It fosters much growth.  Every city and town should encourage public work by artists.  Collaboration is always a good thing.

I am proud to say that I have done installation work for hospitals.  It is a rewarding and therapeutic experience.  I am always looking to do more donor work and encourage groups to contact me.

One such artist who made a positive impact on his city was Jorge Selaron, a Chilean artist.  Unfortunately, he has recently passed.  In the article “Artist Found on Stairs, Death is “Suspicious””, Amanda Crum writes, “Jorge Selaron was found dead under suspicious circumstances on the very stairs he’d spent 20 years of his life transforming into a beautiful work of art.” For someone who brought so much joy and beauty to a city, it is an unthinkable tragedy.

His art, particularly the Rio de Janeiro staircase, was internationally recognized.  Primarily working with tiles, he transformed urban grit into vibrant art.  Many say he changed the face of Rio.  That is all anyone could really ask for, changing something – anything – for the better.  Artists can do wonders for a city’s mood.  Selaron certainly did.  He garbed the Rio de Janeiro staircase with thousands of tiles, each tile bringing a much-needed smile to an onlooker’s face.

Every city could use an artist like Selaron.  It is, after all, what art should be about – beautifying the world around us.  At times, it is an uphill battle.  When thinking of Payne Creations, think of public spaces.

For more information on Selaron, including pictures, read Crum’s article here.

I’ll be home soon!


*Image courtesy of Vera Kratochvil