Downtown Mesa light rail art to stand out from afar - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

Downtown Mesa light rail art to stand out from afar

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Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 4:19 pm | Updated: 5:40 pm, Fri Oct 14, 2011.

The designers of the Metro light rail extension into downtown Mesa are trying to grab the public’s attention with something even more noticeable than the 90-foot-long trains that will glide down the middle of Main Street.

The idea is that the art will steal the show.

The four new stations under design will include some of the largest and most visible art to date on the 20-mile line. Metro has held multiple forums to hear from the public and has had good feedback, said Augie Gastelum, a Mesa resident who serves on a light rail advisory committee.

“It seems that the response has been really positive,” Gastelum said. “People have seen that there’s been a focus to really make these stations stand out.”

The existing 28 stations that opened in 2008 have art, too. Some stations feature large installations, but many have mosaics, custom pavers, small sculptures or other features that are mostly noticed when a person is on or near the platforms.

Mesa’s signature pieces will be visible blocks away.

A 30-foot tall glass and metal sculpture will resemble a cactus bloom at the Country Club station. It will light up at night.

“That will definitely get people’s attention as you’re driving down Main Street and Country Club,” said Jodi Sorrell, Mesa’s transit outreach coordinator.

The Alma School station will feature a metal and glass wall with a geometric tree pattern. The Mesa Drive stop will have a garden feel and include book-like panels that tell stories. The tallest feature will be a 40-foot-high object at the station by the Mesa Art Center. The metal structure will be airy and adorned with figures yet to be determined. An artist is meeting with community members to get ideas about what they want to see depicted.

Each station has its own artist, and they’ve all been meeting with residents, said MB Finnerty, Metro’s public arts administrator. Two artists are from other states and have listened to residents’ ideas about what’s important to them, Finnerty said.

“They’ve really explored the history and the culture of the area,” she said.

The designs are about 30 percent complete and the concepts will be shared at future public events as they are refined.

The design of the $200 million, 3.1-mile extension is set to be complete in 2012, with utility relocation beginning that year. Construction begins in 2013 and the trains should open to the public in 2016.

Metro’s art budget is similar to the original project, at $245,000 per station. Two small sites with electrical equipment will also be landscaped, with a budget of $35,000 each.

Susan Clark is a part-owner of the Fiber Factory in downtown Mesa and said she hopes the art gets people to explore what she considers an underappreciated downtown. The art could become a feature unto itself and get people to explore each Metro station, she said.

“It’s going to make the stations quite interesting and give you something to look at while you’re waiting for a train,” Clark said. “I’ve ridden the whole length of it and if you get there and you miss a train and you’ve got 15 or 20 minutes to kill, it’s so much more interesting to look at the art than just stare at your feet.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6548 or ggroff@evtrib.com

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