A Vision for the Metro
“ Attention customers who are traveling on the Red Line, in the direction of Glenmont; trains are experiencing minor delays between…”
Sigh. Minor delays was all I needed to hear to make me squeeze out an angry frown and cross my impatient arms. Annoyed and option-less, I sat myself down on the hard stone bench. The weight of my fat school bag vanished as it too sat behind me. Tired, I looked up.
“…We regret any inconvenience caused and thank you for your patience, as we continue to upgrade the Metro Rail system…”
The grey structure arched upwards from both sides and met neatly in the center, high above my bored head. Fitted in, or carved out, the hollow rectangles stared blankly back at me; and I at them. We kept looking into one another and then, I felt sorry for them. Propping my neck forward, I stared straight ahead. These empty rectangles must be female I presumed. They were long and slender; stretching for what must be over 15 feet as they arch gracefully inward. But they too are accursed with that same blank boring grey.
Interested, my neck spun around like a radar at BWI. Every glance stunned. The structure, I realized, of this man made tunnel, is gloriously symmetrical. In a way, even those hollow empty squares imprinted into the ceiling have a sort of beauty in them, a beauty which no one cares for. But really, who would care when they look like that? Who the hell picked that abominable color? Or is that, its congenital naturally dull hue?
Then, it hit me.
Those empty blank spaces, assembled like stone soldiers standing proudly in the front lines of battle, would make beautiful works of art. I know nothing about art, but my eyes are good enough to appreciate it. These squares are nothing but naked soldiers that cry for an attire they can wear with pride. What if someone just painted them?
By paint, I don’t mean make them all yellow with a coat of whitewash. That would be as abominable as dressing soldiers up in ragged gowns. No. What would Michelangelo have done had he seen these rows of empty grey caskets nailed to the walls? What would Da Vinci, Botticelli, Perugino, and Raphael ( as I said, I don’t know art, but I do know Wikipedia) have done? Art.
Now I know we don’t have them with us now. But that is not my point. We have enough of artists today who could do art justice. But still, the sane person would never consider my vision with the slightest plausibility. Would our ancestors in the 1500s have let go of the possibility of beautifying such a spectacular structure like that of the Tenleytown Metro Station, and others? I think not. Why then, do we?
Is it that we have lost the capacity for that form of artistic and architectural beauty? When I look at McKinley and Hurst Hall (from the outside of course, the insides are like James Bond sets gone wrong), in them I see a sort of grandiose beauty that not many other buildings at AU can command. Were I visiting Harvard, Yale and William and Mary, it would be otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, the new SIS building is gorgeous in its own right, but still, it looks like a newly polished glass box. Have the intricacies of art and architecture been shoved behind today’s modernity (whatever that term means)?
Back to the Metro system; the only compensation towards any art that can be seen are the ads in the form of posters and billboards. At least they are pictures, right? Are you serious? Is that how low we have descended into our art deprived environments? Union Station (the train station not Metro) is, I think, a nice example of what the metro stations could aspire to be. Today, if we search for that type of art it is confined mainly to museums and Europe (my list of two examples is not exhaustive). Wouldn’t it be lovely to stare for hours at a modern version of the fresco The Last Supper or the hands of God and Adam painted into one of those jaded blocks, or maybe even—
“Tenleytown, doors opening on the left. Red Line to Glenmont…Doors opening, please allow customers…”
Uh-oh! Till next time then. Adieu.
Posted in Wingin' It