One of the things I love most about art is how it can restore the spirit, and nowhere is this more needed than in the New York subway. Commuting via subway can be arduous at the best of times, and the dead heat of summer is not the best of times. While the subway trains themselves are usually pleasantly air-conditioned, the platforms and tunnels develop a unique microcosm that resembles a urinal…in a sauna…that is located approximately 3 miles from the surface of the sun. Tempers fray as commuters, sweat glistening from their brows, elbow each other out of the way to get off the platforms and out of the tunnels as quickly as possible.
It was on just such a day that I got a little lost on the way to Penn Station. I usually enter the station from street level, but this time, I got off at the 34th Street A/C/E station and absentmindedly followed a sign for Penn Station that led to one of those dreaded tunnels. It was quite empty – presumably because everyone else had wisely opted to get outside as quickly as possible. As I forged on, wondering how long it would take for me to go down with heatstroke, I rounded a corner and was greeted by a Garden of Circus Delights. No, it wasn’t a mirage, it was a fabulous glass mosaic by artist Eric Fischl, adorning the walls of the tunnel leading towards Penn Station.
The series of mosaics tell the story of a commuter who gets magically drawn into the weird and wacky world of the circus on his way to work. You follow his circus adventures as you travel along the tunnel, and at the end, he re-emerges, surrounded by white, still a commuter but somehow transformed.
While I wasn’t exactly transformed by the time I reached Penn Station, my spirits were definitely restored.
Art can be interpreted in so many different ways, I’d love to see your take on the theme.
If you’d like to join in, create your own post between now and next Friday, title it “Travel theme: Art” and put a link to this page in your blog post to make it easy for others to find your post. Don’t forget to check back in next Friday for a new travel theme.
Have you had a memorable encounter with art in some shape or form?