While famous songs about trains by Gladys Knight, the Grateful Dead, or Bob Marley* might not exactly bring to mind Dallas’s DART system, a quick, easy, and scenic trip to the Museum by light rail or trolley does offer much to sing about. The DMA is a short walk from DART’s St. Paul Station, and the McKinney Avenue Trolley lets off visitors right at our front door.
Every day, more than 220,000 passengers ride trains, light rail, and buses to move across our city. Whether they’re on their way to the DMA and the Arts District or to another destination, everyone who rides DART encounters works of art. Through the Station Art & Design Program, local artists are commissioned to envision the design concept and theme for every DART station and to lead teams consisting of architects, engineers, designers, and contractors to create unique installations and environments at each stop. In addition to site-specific works of art—including mosaics, sculpture, and photography—the artists also design structural and functional elements like columns, pavers, and windscreens unique to each station.
If you travel through one of DART’s fifty-five stations, look for the work of some well-known members of Dallas’s artistic community, such as Benito Huerta, Vicki Meek, Susan Kae Grant, and Pamela Nelson, among many others. You might also encounter works by artists who are represented in the DMA’s collections. Tom Orr and Frances Bagley, for example, were individually commissioned by DART for several stations. Orr was the station artist at DART’s Bush Turnpike Station, which is surrounded by both a large freeway as well as open, green space. To respond to the location of the station, he designed large steel and wire columns that were planted with vines to create large-scale topiaries.
Frances Bagley served as the station artist for Union Station, Convention Center Station, and Cedars Station (all along the Blue and Red DART lines); on each project, Bagley collaborated with other artists to create installations that reflect the particular site of each station.
In 2009 Bagley and Orr collaborated on a gallery-scaled installation that was included in the DMA’s special exhibition Performance/Art. The piece was based on the pair’s design for the Dallas Opera’s 2006 production of Verdi’s Nabucco. The installation recalled the setting for the opera’s biblical story and portrayed the artists’ interpretation of the Euphrates riverbank, the idol of Baal, and the Hanging Garden of Babylon.
Take advantage of this great spring weather and DART to the art . . . but don’t forget to explore the works of art along the way. Use DART’s guides to learn more.
* Take a look at this list of one writer’s Top Ten Train Songs.
Lisa Kays is Manager of Adult Programming at the Dallas Museum of Art