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#ARTBRT: Public Art

& Public Transportation

Cecily Miller worked with Arlington Public Art to develop a public art project in partnership with the Town's Department of Planning and Community Development.  The goal of the public art project was to support an initiative to improve bus service along Massachusetts Avenue during the morning commute.  Miller developed a plan and secured foundation support in close partnership with the Planning Department's Economic Development Coordinator Ali Carter.  Miller invited 10 artists to respond to an RFP, managed a jury selection process based on proposals, and then worked with five finalists to revise proposals to secure MBTA permission. Miller worked with each artist to manage production and installation of 2D artwork in 5 shelters, assisting with technical issues as well as town permissions. 

In addition to the shelters, 3 of the artists created art installations that extended their designs into the Mass Avenue corridor, activating areas along the bus route with murals and sculptural elements.



Each bus shelter design is unique, reflecting the style and interests of each artist. Together, the bus shelters celebrate the Town’s commitment to environmental sustainability -- specifically to improving public transportation so pe

ople can leave their cars at home. Shared themes include: valuing the environment, connecting with neighbors, and enlivening the experience of waiting for the bus.

Arlington’s Eileen de Rosas, a ceramic artist known for her paintings of animals on plates and pitchers, covered her shelter with portraits of neighborhood wildlife: a coyote, skunk, rabbit, and turtle make their way across the glass, reminding us that taking the bus helps protect the environment. Johnny Lapham, also from Arlington, was invited to expand a project he did to transform the Arlington Service Station with polka dots. Using 80 painted plywood discs, he has created an impression that the polka dots have jumped off the gas station canopy, traveled down the sidewalk, and landed on the bus shelter like something in a Dr. Seuss story.

Two artists visiting from neighboring Somerville designed graphics that were printed on transparent film. James Weinberg’s depiction of nature changing through the seasons features complex layered patterns and colors that glow when the sun comes through. Sneha Shrestha, who goes by Imagine when painting her colorful street art murals, has placed the names of local streets inside two intersecting circles; people are invited to mark their destination or the street where they live with a dot. She hopes to prompt conversationbetween strangers, and envisions that the dots will add up to create a visual map of activity in Arlington.

Boston artists Claudia Ravaschiere and Mike Moss brought their translucent Plexiglas butterflies to the Minuteman Bikeway last year. Continuing their interest in new materials and translucent effects they researched dichroic film and selected a version that transforms the light into unexpected and fugitive colors – blue, magenta, orange and purple – that are both transparent and reflective. The colors shift with your movement; the effect is magical, as if you’ve stepped into a soap bubble.

Additional elements activating the Mass Ave corridor included: a temporary wheat paste mural featuring bears, deer, foxes and fish by Eileen de Rosas, colorful wooden discs and a painted utility box by Johnny Lapham, and a mural by James Weinberg.


The project was curated by Cecily Miller, working in collaboration with Ali Carter, the Town’s Economic Development Coordinator, and funded by a generous grant from the Marion Institute/Barr Foundation. This was a fantastic opportunity for Arlington Public Art to integrate art into an important initiative in improving transportation infrastructure and service. From many positive comments via social media, we believe we met our goal to support the success of the BRT pilot and enhance the experience of thousands of bus riders!

Serving the morning commute of MBTA buses, the BRT pilot created a dedicated bus lane on Mass. Avenue, eastbound, from Varnum Street to Alewife Brook Parkway, Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. for one month. October 9th – November 9th.


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