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Station art enhances transit for commuters and community

"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls."

—Pablo Picasso

When inspiring public art appears at the stations along the R Line in Aurora, the sheer aesthetics and beauty will make getting from here to there an experience in unity, community and creativity

That is the vision of Brenda Tierney, public information manager and public art manager for RTD.

Brenda Tierney

Tierney created RTD's Art-n-Transit program 21 years ago and last year received the Mayor's Award for Excellence in Arts and Culture.

The program procures public artwork for rail line stations throughout the RTD system, including the new R Line.

Some of the art features independent works and others incorporate pieces into station designs, such as pedestrian bridges and windscreens.

While there is an overall distinct theme for the project, Tierney contends it is the artwork that makes each station unique. "At every station, we commissioned art that draws on the character of the surrounding neighborhood. We seek art that connects with the immediate community, but which also resonates with commuters who are traveling through."

At the 2nd and Abilene Station in Aurora, two panoramic works which depict early and present-day Aurora will be installed on the Highline Canal pedestrian bridge that will connect the Park-n-Ride lot with the rail station.

Redering of artwork for the station at 2nd and Abilene

The pieces received enthusiastic support from former property owners who, for three generations, have had ties to the adjacent land. In fact, former resident Jacque Chomiak in a note to artist Douwe Blumberg said, "My dad is very excited about this project and the possibility to show the historical progression of the land."

The Art-n-Transit program began planning for station art during the early stages of project design on the I-225 Rail Line.

"We always wait to see if there is contingency money in the budget to fund artwork at the stations," Tierney said. "The budget for the Aurora Line/I-225 Rail Line was tight, so the city of Aurora stepped in and commissioned artwork that will be installed at three locations: Iliff Station, the Iliff Station parking garage, and Colfax Station."

In addition, local leaders and policy makers from the city of Aurora contributed funds and joined the committee which called for art submissions at the remaining stations.

Under Tierney's guidance, the group considered hundreds of images submitted by artists from across the country.

Watch for new artwork to be installed soon along the R Line that will enhance the experience of travel through Aurora.

See the new art that's coming to the A, G and B commuter rail lines, which are also opening this year.

—This blog was written by Pauline Haberman, I-225 Rail Line public information specialist