Are commuters too busy for subway art?
by Daniel Bush
Dec 14, 2010 | 7619 views | 0 0 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Most straphangers look for ways to fast-forward their commutes.

Ben Snead hopes they'll slow down long enough to appreciate “Departures and Arrivals,” the nature-themed mosaic he created that graces a 103-foot section of wall in the newly renovated and renamed Jay Street/MetroTech station in Downtown Brooklyn.

The ceramic tile mosaic depicts several species of animals that have migrated to Brooklyn over time, such as the European starling, Monk parrot and Red Lion fish. (The Tiger Beetle, a local species in decline, is also represented).

Snead said the result is a Brooklyn-style melting pot.

“It sort of mirrors immigration and how Brooklyn is made up of a diverse group of people,” said Snead, himself a transplant from Boulder, Colorado, who was commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to create the mosaic.

The soft-spoken Snead moved to Cobble Hill in 1997. His work is shown at Feature Inc, a gallery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. “Departures and Arrivals” is his first public work.

Snead designed a miniature model of the mosaic in 2006, and sent the maquette to Franz Mayer of Munich, a German-based architectural glass and mosaic manufacturer.

The firm replicated the mosaic in life-size using Italian and Mexican tiles, then shipped the finished product back to Brooklyn, where it was installed in sections at the subway station in October of 2009.

Snead said he enjoys knowing it will be studied, or noticed, or at the very least glimpsed, by tens of thousands of people each day. For the ones who really take the art in, great, he said.

If for the rest the mosaic is a dash of rush-hour color and nothing more, that's okay too.

“Hopefully it makes the subway station a nicer place to be and a more interesting place to be,” Snead said. “And it'll be there forever.”

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