Metro Public Art in Los Angeles: Art of the Purple Line

Metro Rail Purple Line | Photo Courtesy of Marc Evans, Flickr

Los Angeles Metro’s public art showcases the city’s roots, providing visitors with an easy way to learn about various aspects of LA’s personality. Movies, culture, myth and architecture all appear in the public art works of LA Metro’s Purple Line, which runs from Union Station to Wilshire and Western. Take some time to explore, and see how public art in LA adds another dimension to the city’s art scene.

Union Station: "LA: City of Angels"

It’s fitting that passengers arriving at Union Station would be greeted with an homage to the City of Angels. Artist Cynthia Carlson’s work depicts the founding of Los Angeles and corresponding angels for each founding family. The angels, whose names are written on their wings, represent aspects of Los Angeles — “Ram’khastra” means Angel of Rarefied Air, “Rohab” means “Angel of the Sea,” etc. The complete list of metaphorical references can be viewed on Metro's art site. Photo Credit: Union Station, LA: City of Angels, Cynthia Carlson, Artist. Courtesy of Metro ©2008 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Civic Center Station: "In the Living Rock"

Artist Samm Kunce plays with various themes in this Venetian cake-glass mosaic. Located at 1st and Hill Street, right at the entrance of the Civic Center Station, the mural conveys a natural beauty that blends in with the greenery surrounding it. Vaguely reminiscent of Gaudi’s mosaics in Barcelona’s Park Guell, this piece also incorporates art into an outdoor public setting. Photo Credit: Civic Center Station, In the Living Rock, Samm Kunce, Artist. Courtesy of Metro ©2008 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Pershing Square Station: "Neons for Pershing Square Station"

The eye-catching work of neon artist Stephen Antonakos emerged in 1993 as a tribute to the first neon sign that appeared in the United States — right by Pershing Square. Like other public art works, Antonakos’ neon forms blend into the existing architecture, adding an extra dimension to the aesthetic. At the Pershing Square Station, the neon signs give the station a futuristic, Blade Runner-esque look. Photo Credit: Pershing Square Station, Neons for Pershing Square, Stephen Antonakos, Artist. Courtesy of Metro ©2008 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

7th Street/Metro Center Station: "The Movies: Fantasies and Spectacles"

Los Angeles and film: two words that artist Joyce Kozloff obviously knew were inseparable. Culled from hundreds of films, the imagery Kozloff used in her two, narrow murals showcases the history of LA’s love affair with film. Among the genres Kozloff used are science fiction, Westerns, romances and historic movies. Photo Credit: 7th Street/Metro Center Station, The Movies: Fantasies and Spectacles, Joyce Kozloff, Artist. Courtesy of Metro ©2008 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Westlake/MacArthur Park Station: "El Sol/La Luna"

The intense colors of artist Francisco Letelier’s “El Sol/La Luna” reflect the dynamic community of MacArthur Park and reference its most recognized landmarks. At the core of the ceramic-tile murals are messages of hope, culture and a proud history of persistence — all apt descriptions of Los Angeles. Photo Credit: Westlake/MacArthur Park Station, El Sol/La Luna, Francisco Letelier, Artist. Courtesy of Metro ©2008 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Wilshire/Normandie Station: "Festival of Masks Parade"

The inspiration for this mural was a once-popular annual event, during which a flood of people would fill Wilshire Boulevard in a parade of masks, celebrating a wide range of cultures. Chinese, Korean, African, Native American — even movie cultures — were all represented in costumes and masks. Artist Frank Romero’s 60-foot-long mural portrays the parade in its entirety (its last vestige, since the festival hasn't been held in years), including Wilshire’s famed buildings such as the Brown Derby and the El Rey Theatre. Photo Credit: Wilshire/Normandie Station, Festival of Masks Parade, Frank Romero, Artist. Courtesy of Metro ©2008 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.