First public art of Gold Line Foothill Extension installed in Duarte – Pasadena Star-News

The following article appeared in the Pasadena Star-News on January 10, 2015.

First public art of Gold Line Foothill Extension installed in Duarte – Pasadena Star-News

Traditional weaving patterns of the Tongva/Gabrielino people resemble a gathering basket on a 12-foot column — the first major art installation for the Gold Line Foothill Extension — is installed Friday at the future Duarte Gold Line Station adjacent to City of Hope in Duarte. Walt Mancini — Staff Photographer

By Steve Scauzillo

January 10, 2015

DUARTE >> Artist Stan Sears watched nervously as the first public art installation of the Gold Line Foothill Extension’s six train stations was carefully bolted onto the concrete platform of the Duarte/City of Hope Station on Friday morning.

Before the 11-foot, orange-colored column of steel-and-concrete was uprighted, Sears and Habib Balian, the Foothill Extension CEO, signed the bottom with a Sharpie — an act not unlike one of those NFL players autographing a football after scoring a touchdown.

For both artist and CEO, public art are not new. Every Gold Line Station along the operating Pasadena-to-East Los Angeles line is festooned with some kind of station art, while Sears and his wife and co-artist Andrea Myklebust have done 40 pieces of outdoor art stretching from the Midwest to California.

This time, at the Duarte station at Highland Avenue and Duarte Road, it represented the culmination of 11 years of work on the artists’ part, and for the Gold Line, a small milestone signaling construction of the $764 million, 11.5-mile foothill extension that began in June 2010 is only months away from completion and less than a year from carrying its first passenger.

Balian estimates work will be done on all stations by the end of September, followed by training of operators by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority or Metro, who will operate the extended line. The extension will be carrying riders from the Sierra Madre Villa Station to the Azusa/Glendora station by spring 2016, he said.

“We are coming to the end of the project,” Balian said. “These are the things you do in the home stretch.”

By the end of the month, an art sculpture will be installed in the Arcadia station. Meanwhile, 16-foot portals for the Azusa downtown station are being fabricated at a shop in Pico Rivera and will be installed in a few months, said Lesley Elwood, public art program manager for the Gold Line Foothill Extension.

The Authority set aside about $1  million for all public art installations on the extension, said Lisa Levy Buch, spokesperson.

Sears and Myklebust call their art “The Spirit of the San Gabriel River.” It consists of four columns, each with a limestone capital etched with designs reflective of the region’s architectural and cultural history, he said.

To represent the rancho era, Sears carved a design into the stone atop the first column captured from a 19th century leather saddle. On the middle column, the stone top represents the Tongva/Gabrielino Indians basket-weaving skills. The third column on the platform contains a pattern mimicking the California live oak leaves and acorns, Sears said.

A fourth column etched with elevation heights of the San Gabriel Mountains will be placed in the Duarte/City of Hope Station parking area in June to link Park and Ride users to the station, Elwood said. Eighteen cast-bronze pavers have yet to be placed at the base of the columns.

Sears said he scoured public libraries for content, skimming books and interviewing authors about native Americans, citrus growers and early architectural influences of the San Gabriel Valley. Sears and his co-artist have created art for the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the Minnesota World War II Memorial, the Minneapolis-St.Paul Central Corridor (light-rail) Line and the Fox Theatre in Stockton.

One of their first priorities lies with the position of the art. The more public the better, he said.

“You are trying to make it so all the good and interesting stuff isn’t hidden away in a box. It is part of your daily life, your movement through your environment,” Sears said, while watching one of his columns get hoisted into the air and bolted into place.

Sears, who hails from Stockholm, Wis., a town with a population of 66, located 70 miles from Minneapolis-St. Paul, said he wanted to make sure the columns are seen in day and night.

“I wanted them positioned relative to the lighting,” he said. “At night, the street lights will help clarify the imagery.”

The Phase 2A extension will run from the Sierra Madre Villa Station in Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border and will include the following stations: Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte/City of Hope, Irwindale, Azusa Downtown and Azusa/Azusa Pacific University.

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