The Red Line, Revealed

boston red line art A while back, I posted several close-up photos of various artworks along the Red Line and invited you all to try to identify the stations at which they're found.  Now, it's answer time.

I should note that, yes, I was aware that many of these installations are featured on the MBTA's own webpage, as they were part in a decades-old program called - appropriately enough - "Art on the Line."  Of course, I'm sure that none of you honest folks who submitted answers through the contest would have dared use this as a cheat sheet (*ahem*)...right?

We had quite a few guesses...I was impressed at all your knowledge of T art.  Congrats to all who submitted; our best score was 17/24. Not too bad, considering many of these can be hard to spot unless you're really looking.

If you haven't checked out the close-ups yet and want to try your hand at guessing, do so now. Otherwise, let's cut to the chase and see...(drumroll please)...the answers!


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Installation #1: Charles/MGH

This piece (pieces?) hangs on the inbound side of the glass headhouse.  It's especially pretty during the late afternoon, when the sun shines through the transluscent squares.  Created by local businesses and schools, the installation is made largely out of recycled materials.

Unfortunately, in the massive expanse of the glass atrium, it looks tiny, even unfinished almost. More, please!

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Installation #2: Porter Square

"The Glove Cycle" by Mags Harries

These metal gloves are peppered throughout the station, both embedded in the brick floors and along the (frickin' huge!) escalators to the street level. You've really got to hand it to the artist on this one.

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Installation #3: Broadway

I didn't count, but there are apparently 200 of these colored tiles embedded in the posts along the platform. Created by students at the St. Brigid's School.

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Installation #4: Porter Square

"Gift of the Wind" by Susumu Shingu

One of the most well-known sculptures on the Northern Extension of the Red Line, this piece twirls in the breeze high above the entrance to the station. It's elegant grace will knock the wind right out of you.

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Installation #5: Quincy Adams

"Cirrus Clouds" by Elaine Calzohari

Hidden in the far Southern reaches of the Braintree branch, this hanging sculpture requires some neck craning to spot. But high up in the rafters of the cavernous station, these three structures are filled with tiny discs which make a really neat sound when they flutter in the passing breeze.

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Installation #6: Harvard Square

"New England Decorative Arts" by Joyce Kozloff

This wall mural (mega-mosaic?), which is constructed from hundreds of individual tiles, can be found on the ramp to the lower busway.

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Installation #7: Davis Square

"Untitled" by James Tyler

These "masked" statues can be found both in the park behind the Holland Street exit (top), as well as smack dab in the central of Davis Square (bottom). And scattered in other spots as well, I hear.  Find them all!

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Installation #8: Alewife

Not sure if this is considered artwork, but it sure looks like it holds the record as the world's largest T token (what? There was life before Charlie cards?!).

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Installation #9: Central Square

One of the few remaining station ID mosaics in the MBTA. Probably harkening back to a time when we worshiped and emulated New York City. In other words, this mosaic has probably been here since at least 1918.

And hey, if you're curious to check out some of the other tile mosaics on the T, check out some of these photos. Wicked cool!

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Installation #10: Kendall/MIT

"Kendall Band" by Paul "No, not that" Matisse

This piece (actually three separate installations across the platform) is currently closed for "repairs" -- only the core parts, as in the below picture, remain -- but if you've ever been to Kendall, you've probably played with these mechanical whirlygigs. Only at MIT would art be transformed into interactive sound machines...let's hope these babies come back soon.       - more info -

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Installation #11: Alewife

"Untitled" by William Keyser, Jr.

The funkiest wooden bench this side of the Fresh Pond Parkway is located in the pedestrian pick up area, deep in the bowels of the mammoth parking garage. If I had to guess, I'd say it was commissioned by some gang of sadistic chiropractors. Ouch, but neat.

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Installation #12: South Station

A headhouse to the hoppin'-est transit hub in Dewey Square, or the Fortress of Solitude? I'll let you be the judge, but don't be surprised if you descend within and discover a ragtag fleet of buses masking as a subway line instead of the Man of Steel.

That's right, Silver Line, I said it: you're a frickin' bus. Stop pretending.

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Installation #13: Andrew Square

Umm...yeah. So I went to Andrew looking for a different artwork, couldn't find it (see #21 below), so settled on this. I'm not even sure if it's supposed to be art. But it does have colors. And shapes. Yeah...

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Installation #14: Downtown Crossing

"Situations" by Lewis Simpson

Another instance where designers apparently said to themselves: "let's get someone to make chairs for people not to sit on." But they're still darn cool. And granite, a rock type that's poorly under-represented in the MBTA art system, says this ex-geologist.

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Installation #15: Alewife

"The End of the Red Line" by Alejandro and Moira Sina

If you participated in any of the BSoS No-Pants Adventures, you've probably once stared thoughtfully at this neon mobile as you pondered the wisdom of your imminent disrobing. Dangling delicately above the tracks and platform, they glow against the darkened brick walls as if to say, "hey, look at me! I'm a bunch of hanging red neon lights."

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Installation #16: Central Square

"Circle Square" by Anne Storrs and Dennis Cunningham

Okay, so they don't all have circles, but they are all squares...the platform walls are dotted with these small relief tiles.

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Installation #17: Davis Square

"Childrens Tile Mural" by various

Several colorful tiles lining the walls in both directions on the upstairs portion of the mezzanine. Cause we could all use a little cheering up as we trudge out after a long train ride. 

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Installation #18: Davis Square

One of the coolest set of pieces I had never seen before, despite passing through the area so many times. There are several mini sculptures that are hoisted several yards above the small Seven Hills Park outside of the Holland Street exit. I have yet to see the relevance of most of them (eg. a cow weathervane -- not pictured), but definitely look up next time you're here.

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Installation #19: Broadway

"Domestic Objects and Tools of the Trade" by Jay Coogan

A bunch of little pieces hang off the wall here, above the stairway to the platform. There's definitely some weird, Masonic, Classic Concentration-style sort of rebus puzzle going on here. Or maybe it's just glorified Wingdings.

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Installation #20: Central Square

This was probably commissioned by the City of Cambridge rather than the MBTA, but it's still pretty cool, what with rotating pieces and various languages (though sadly no Wingdings). Outside on the Western side of Mass. Ave, near the pseudo-busway.

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Installation #21: Andrew Square

IMO, the most neglected artwork on the Red Line. When I first went to look for it, I was convinced it had been taken down, but went back again and found it. Too bad...it's pretty neat, both in composition and in that it is meant to be visible from both street level and platform level: if you peer through the grime-caked glass near the entrance on Dot Ave., you can kind of spot it, and if you're at the far end of the platform and look up in a recess, through some netting, it's right above you. It's apparent motto: "You can look, but you can't touch. Also, don't look."

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Installation #22: Harvard Square

"Omphalos" by Dimitri Hadzi

Again, this one is outside of the station itself, right next to Out of Town News. Another artwork you don't want to take for granite! Yuk yuk yuk...

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Installation #23: Davis Square

"Sculpture with a D" by Sam Gilliam

Somehow I think the artist drew inspiration from my fourth grade Trapper Keeper. I love it. Brings color to the dank, soot-covered brickwork of the Davis depths.

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Installation #24: Broadway

I tried to fool y'all with the closeup thumbnail, which to these tired eyes looks almost like an X, or at least not as much like a W. But again, one of the few tile mosaics in the T, and I love these. So much more romantic than the typical ariel-esque font that graces most of the other signs.

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Hope y'all enjoyed this...it was fun to put together, and certainly opened my eyes to the myriad of artworks around me. Continue to keep your eyes open on the other lines, because there might be more to come some day...mwa ha ha!

All photos c.2011, Nicklebones