“Living and working in New York for 20 years undoubtedly helped me mature as an artist and develop a visual language.”
—Mark Hadjipateras (1953– )
New York has rewarded Mark Hadjipateras. Born and educated in London, Mr. Hadjipateras is an American citizen of Greek ancestry; he was commissioned by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Arts and Design Program to create a permanent art installation for its renovated station at West 28th Street and Broadway on the N/R local subway line. The result is City Dwellers (for Costas and Maro), which was completed in 2002. The next year the installation earned him the Municipal Art Society’s Award for Best Public Work.
Comprised of 40 images rendered in glass mosaic, Mr. Hadjipateras’ designs decorate the walls of the train platforms as well as the walls of the stairs leading to the platforms. Our Subway Art Tour One takes its guests to the uptown side for a look at those designs. Here is a closer look at those on the downtown side.
When looking at these fanciful designs we enter Mr. Hadjipateras’ imaginary world. The area of Manhattan where this subway station is located was once home to the Toy Center. This was a building where toy manufacturers showcased their wares and sold to retailers. The toy-like quality of some of the designs reflect that inspiration.
New York’s Garment District and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) are only two blocks from the station. Mr. Hadjipateras also drew inspiration from this source. The Flower District along Sixth Avenue, now gone north to The Bronx, also fed his imagination when creating this permanent art installation.
Mr. Hadjipateras has had a long and productive career; he has worked in different disciplines, including painting, sculpture, mixed media, mosaics, and permanent and temporary installations. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions in New York, London, Boston and Athens, as well as elsewhere. His works are owned by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young in Athens; the Greek Consulate in New York and in Berlin; the Royal Bank of Scotland in London; IDS/American Express and the Prudential Insurance Corporation, both in New York, among others, as well as private collections.
The preceding four photos are of one overall design scene and its details. The boat is native to the region of Greece where Mr. Hadjipateras’ ancestors hail from. The costumes the figures are wearing are also indigenous to that area of Greece.
“As in all of Hadjipateras’ work, the sense of whimsy, humor and a general eccentricity is always present to charm and tantalize the viewer.” —Andrea Gilbert, Art Critic
Ms. Gilbert wrote the above observation in connection with an exhibit in London of Mr. Hadjipateras’ monoprints in March 2009. New York straphangers are most fortunate to have the artist’s humor and whimsy on display everyday with City Dwellers. Ms. Gilbert referenced the work at 28th Street and Broadway in connection with a 2012 exhibition of Mr. Hadjipateras’ sculpture in Athens, “Hadjipateras’ second species of inhabitants are mutant relatives of his familiar City Dwellers.”
“Seeing exhibitions in museums, galleries and alternative spaces as well as dance, performances and theater, showcasing some of the best work being made in the world, informs you, raises your standards and makes you work much harder. It makes you aim for a high degree of professionalism in the execution and presentation of your work and that was aided further by meeting and associating with artists whose work, work ethic and character you respect (my age, but also younger and older artists).” —Mark Hadjipateras
Because some of the glass mosaics designs are ambiguous, riders are free to guess at their meanings; but whatever conclusions may be drawn, the goal is to give New Yorkers a joyous and fanciful trip as they move from Point A to Point B.
The feeling of joy is also a goal of both of our Subway Art Tours. Tour Two takes a different route than Tour One. Each includes 10 stations where we survey the art that has been paid for by the public. Another goal of the Subway Art Tours, and all our Tours, is to open our eyes to the great big beautiful world around us. Don’t just look, see!
ALL PHOTOS AND TEXT © PHIL DESIERE 2016