Every time the UP North Metra line embankment crosses a street, there are two ready-made mural canvases in the form of the retaining walls under the bridges. And one of the more delightful outcomes of Rogers Park’s recent participatory budgeting has been the addition of some amazing and wonderful murals to the underpasses (though honestly, I might have given higher priority to a weekly power washing of the sidewalks, which are covered in pigeon droppings.)
I made a quick survey this evening of the murals in my neighborhood, most of which are less than two years old.
Is it going to be 3D? I don’t know, but as a child of the 80s, I am pre-programmed to like this particular color palette.
The Pratt bridge itself bears some note. It is the only Metra bridge I know of that retains turn-of-the-century ornamentation:
At Farwell, the northern underpass wall has a two-part mural by two different artists. West of the tracks, a surreal motor encounter, by Dan Bellini:
At Lunt, the Rogers Park Metra Station underpass is adorned with a themed pair of murals titled “Diverse Earth”.
As underpass murals go, the Lunt Avenue one is getting on in age, and parts have been lost to recent concrete spalling.
On the north side,another strong-concept work – a series of colored panels, each with a slight pointer allowing the panel to be seen as a speech balloon spoken by a figure in the adjacent panel.
At present, there are only three characters, so I improvised a couple more of my own.
Is it incomplete? Are more figures coming? Or is it simply meant to evoke precisely this sort of interaction with the work?
All these works are somewhat ephemeral and transient. With luck, they may last five or ten years; however, they are doomed to a finite lifespan by both their medium and their setting. Paint fades and peels – but more than that, the concrete on which it sits spalls and crumbles.
The bridges themselves won’t last forever, either – they’re a hundred years old, and their condition reflects that. These bridges are not part of Metra’s current bridge replacement plans (that project stops at Balmoral in Andersonville), but it’s a fair bet that once the current project is done (in 2018, according to plans), this batch will be on the table for replacement.