Client: MCAD, City of El Paso
Location: El Paso, TX, United States
Completion date: 2019
MCAD, City of El Paso
Virginia Maria Romero
Site-specific artwork has been integrated into the City of El Paso’s BRIO rapid transit system since the first Mesa line opened in 2014. With three of the four lines now in service, these bus stops have transformed a functional and necessary piece of infrastructure into a way to display artwork across the city adding interest to the City’s main arterials.
As the City introduced its rapid transit system to the community, the bus stops had different needs than just a bench and shelter. With the City’s 2% of capital improvement funds set aside for public art, it was an opportunity to transform something of necessity into an avenue to display art across the El Paso.
Starting with Leaves of Wind along the Mesa corridor, the BRIO stations pulled from El Paso’s environment featuring flora and fauna commonly found in the desert. The new Alameda and Dyer BRIO lines continue to draw inspiration from the area and community the lines pass through. Alameda’s BRIO stops feature a collection of panels designed by local artists that convey the individual ties to this part of El Paso. Dyer’s BRIO stops use different camouflage patterns to tie this line to Fort Bliss and its long military history in El Paso.
MCAD, Sun Metro and the selected artists worked together to develop bus stops that addressed the needs Sun Metro had for the BRIO as well as creating a way to display artwork. Each station retains the same basic design that displays the artwork for Leaves of Wind on the Mesa Brio, but each line is customized to showcase the artwork that was created for the different corridors. Close collaboration between Sun Metro and MCAD was necessary to make sure the shelters met the functional requirements for each stop. MCAD also worked closely with the artists to ensure their pieces would be installed in a way that would highlight the beauty of their work. For the Alameda Corridor, this involved working with 13 local artists.
Leaves of Wind, the city’s first installation on the BRIO stations, was recognized in 2015 with a CODAaward for transportation. It was also featured in DWELL magazine. This project also made use of the City’s Allied Artist program that provides a selected local artist the opportunity to learn about the public art process by working with a more experienced artist.