Huge art project at new CTA 95th St. Red Line terminal to create jobs, give skills training

The CTA is partnering with an internationally known Chicago artist on a public artwork project at the new 95th Street Red Line terminal in a program that will incorporating job creation, skills training and significant community engagement.

Artist Theaster Gates (photo by Chicago Magazine)

Artist Theaster Gates (photo by Chicago Magazine)

Artist Theaster Gates would earn a $250,000 as part of the $1.3 million contract approved Monday by the CTA board. Another $1 million is earmarked for the design, fabrication and installation of the artworks, and $50,000 will go toward community engagement activities, including public meetings.

The Theaster Gates Studio is an internationally acclaimed practice that deals with issues of urban planning and revitalization of poor and underserved neighborhoods through combining urban planning and art practices, according to a CTA news release. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal recognized Gates as Arts Innovator of the Year and he was honored as the Commissioned Artist of the New York Armory Show and featured at Documenta (13), the international art festival in Kassel, Germany  Currently, an exhibition of his artwork, Theaster Gates: 13th Ballad, is featured at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

The project, which would be the largest public artwork project in the CTA’s history, would create 10 jobs for the production of the artwork, and establish an apprenticeship program for local students promoting skills development and training. Gates will host five public meetings to engage and promote a dialogue among community residents, architects and designers.

“This is an historic opportunity to promote community engagement in a once-in-a-generation project on Chicago’s South Side,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This project combines the talents of a world-renowned artist with an effort to create jobs and provide on-the-job training and skills development for both workers and students.”

Two artworks are envisioned for the new 95th Street terminal, construction for which will begin in 2014 and finish in 2016. The art projects  include an architectural feature integrated into the terminal building structure, and an independent artwork for the terminal or one of its walkways. The terminal is still in the design stages, but concepts call for a modern, efficient, multimodal facility to replace the existing cramped, outdated structure built in 1969.

Construction of the $240 million new terminal is funded with local, state and federal dollars.


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  • Yet another appalling waste of money that could be better spent in fixing up the tracks somewhere!

  • Cool!

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    You don't get it, do you?
    The system is falling apart, yet they're blowing cash on bread & circuses, instead of maintaining the reason the CTA exists: To move people from point A to point B.
    What would you prefer?
    A CTA rail system that's plain, but runs fast & on time or one that's pretty & takes forever to get you to your destination.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Again, the question is whether this is funded by the federal arts with a capital f funds, in which case it wasn't available for track repairs, as opposed to most of the rest of this project being funded by borrowing.

    Anyway, as manifested many times before, money purportedly for track repairs doesn't fix anything other than the cavity in some contractor's wallet.

  • In reply to jack:

    Well, replacing one of the concrete bridges on the NSML is a capital expense.
    I think a crossover pair at Granville would also fit that description.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    The question isn't whether it is a capital expense, but out of what fund it comes. For instance, the TIGGER for 2 electric buses can't be used for a bus wash, no matter how misguided the feds are in giving CTA $2.2 million to test electric buses. The only redeeming factor is that CTA asked for 5 and got 2.

    Similarly, if it is the FTA art money, it isn't going to pay for the wall or the crossover. It may pay for someone painting the wall.

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