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TRAX stops will be artistic, distinctive

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 19 1998 12:00 a.m. MDT

Imagine you've had your nose in a newspaper while riding a TRAX light-rail car from Sandy to Salt Lake City.

At a stop near the end of the half-hour ride, you finally look up. How will you know where you are?You could read the sign announcing the station's name. Or you could tune in to the various artistic elements that will flavor each of the city's six stations when the 15-mile system opens in early 2000.

If you glance up to see life-size bronze statues of sea gulls atop the station canopy, you'd be at the Temple Square station. If you notice photographs of baseball players above and colored concrete below, you'd be at the Ballpark stop near 1300 South.

If you see the scales of justice rising above folks as they weigh their decision on whether to wait for a train, you'd be at the Courthouse station.

Bronze bees and an abstract painting of a beehive? That'd be the City Center stop on Main Street.

Four artists, or groups of artists, are busy creating the statues, murals, glass wind screens, pavement markers, stone seats, ramp-railing inserts and designer tree grates that will adorn each of the six station platforms.

The coordinated effort is part of the Utah Transit Authority's Art in Transit Program. Integration of art for the six Salt Lake stations is being supervised by the Salt Lake City Arts Council.

"I think what the artists' work does is it breathes life into the stations and makes it a more enjoyable experience for the riders," said Nancy Boskoff, the Arts Council's executive director and the city's Art in Transit coordinator. "It helps riders have a sense of place."

Other communities along the TRAX corridor also plan to participate in the Art in Transit program, but Salt Lake City is farthest along in its contribution. Boskoff said that is the case, in part, because five of the city's stations are in the middle of streets and not affected by zoning and development issues or by the need to acquire property.

UTA community relations specialist Dennis McElroy said Midvale officials have decided the art at their two stations will revolve around the themes of skiing (Midvale Fort Union station) and mining (Midvale Center station). Murray and Sandy are beginning to develop their own ideas, too, he said.

UTA, largely through federal grants, will pay for 60 percent of any Art in Transit effort. The other 40 percent, the local match, can be paid for by the local government or any other group that steps forward with funding.

Four contracts totaling $380,000 have been issued for the six Salt Lake stations. At $90,000, art for the Delta Center station is the most expensive.

The artwork must be completed and ready for display by June 15 of next year, although some of the creations will be put into place months earlier.

Here is a brief description of what the downtown stations will include:

- Delta Center, 350 W. South Temple - The design by Gordon Huether and Christine Stone of Napa, Calif., will feature a wind screen made of dichroic glass, which appears to change color as the viewer moves.

- Temple Square, 75 W. South Temple - Utah artists Day Christensen (Pleasant Grove) and Bonnie Sucec (Salt Lake City) will feature more than a dozen bronze sea gulls and an abstract see-through painting of the Great Salt Lake.

- City Center, 50 S. Main - Christensen and Sucec will use bronze honeybees and an abstract painting of a beehive to create the atmosphere here.

- Gallivan Plaza, 250 S. Main - Norie Sato, a Seattle artist, will feature abstract stone seating, bronze crickets and grasshoppers, and various local facts - such as "the usual humidity here is 15 percent or less" - etched into bronze or copper platform markers.

- Courthouse, 450 S. Main - Sato plans to hang her own version of the scales of justice from a light pole and cover the station's glass wind screen with the names of Utah families as a tribute to the genealogy archives.

- Ballpark, 250 W. 1300 South - Designers from the Phillips Gallery of Salt Lake City will use current photographs, a ribbon of colored paving and painted inserts on the railing of the disabled access ramps to create the environment.

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