Saturday, November 1, 2008

NaBloPoMO #1

This is the first (or 4th if you've been reading my NaBloPoMo warmup posts) in a series of daily posts in which I hope to explain the research, history, development and installation of a mosaic created over a nine month period in 1990. It was, indeed, as close as I will likely ever come to experiencing the pain and ultimate joy of birthing a baby...


- The Purpose of the D.A.R.T. Art Project -

The South Irving Transit Center, located in the heart of old downtown Irving, Texas, was the first park-and-ride bus facility in the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system and opened in 1988.

170 years ago, the urban land on which the building stands was heavily wooded. At least nine different Indian tribes traveled through the area. They hunted buffalo on the Grape Vine Prairie; black bear, turkey and deer in the Trinity River bottoms; and in some cases each other, when they weren't trading goods.

DART's plan all along had been to incorporate a public art project into the structure: a project that reflected their goal of mass transit and also celebrated the rich heritage of historic Irving. Dart officials and a committee of 7 Irving citizens came up with the concept of depicting the early foot trails used by Native Americans and early Anglo settlers throughout the area. An existing 300 square foot tile floor inside the facility was the proposed site.

In 1989, I contracted with DART as the artist to execute this momumental work. This was DART's first public art project and my first experience working for either a government agency or a committee. The final result was well worth any difficulties thus encountered in its creation and is now, I believe, a significant cultural asset to the community.

This photo shows my then 4 year old* daughter, Josephine, "following the trails" at the opening ceremony on July 4, 1990.

- Early Irving -

The transit facility lies in the extreme northwest corner of the original 80 acre plot of Irving, Texas. A major foot path used by early settlers throughout the region skirts just to the north of it and roughly defines the route of what would eventually become DART's first rail line. (That public commuter rail line now connects Dallas and Ft. Worth and was DART's first rail venture. It opened in 1996 with a stop at the South Irving Transit Center.)

Detail depicting the original 80 acres of Irving in black with the mid-19th century foot trace above in red. The blue tile shows the meander of Indian Run (creek), the green represents prairie and the brown depicts timber:

The above photo shows less than 1/10 of 1% of the total project, but that small detail is notable in at least two ways: first, it shows exactly where the on-site viewer is standing (the upper left, or northwest, portion of the black rectangle), and second, although there are 97 different colored tiles in the entire project, the only materials used which are not made of porcelain are represented in this photograph.

The red is Mexican glass tile, used here and elsewhere for emphasis. The small mottled looking piece in the upper lefthand segment of the black rectangle is made of concrete. When originally installed this "tile" was covered in silver spray paint, which has since worn off due to heavy foot traffic.

That concrete "tile" is a slice of the Berlin Wall.**

Detail in the legend of the map project showing another slice of The Wall: (approximately 3/16" x 3/16")

For closeups of those remnants of the Berlin Wall click on the photos. Very cool...

* Not that you care, but Josephine was actually 7 days shy of 4 at the time. Ain't she cute?

** "When the East German government announced on November 9, 1989, after several weeks of civil unrest, that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin, crowds of East Germans climbed onto and crossed the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, parts of the wall were chipped away by a euphoric public and by souvenir hunters; industrial equipment was later used to remove almost all of the rest of it."


Lily said...

Fantastic project! I hope chewing gum droppers are severely punished. We have a chunk of the Berlin wall in our front room - removed by my husband before they demolished the wall, when he was working over there - erecting the stage for a rock band tour, the Rolling Stones I think.

Susan M said...

Dang Rick,

You're really talented! Wish you had written about this while I still lived in Southlake. I'd like to see this up close and personal. And I love the history. Looking forward to your next post.