Take a free subway art tour this weekend
Skip the Met -- there's a free art exhibit on your subway ride home that you may not have even noticed.
Ruddy Harootian, a 28-year-old from Fort Greene who creates customized private tours for a travel agency, will be leading an art crawl of the city's subway system this weekend to show off some of his favorite pieces adorning the stations in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
"When you take the train, you always pass by these things," Harootian said as he gave amNewYork a sneak peak at his tour. "They don’t stand out anymore," plus "you're so focused on not being late and getting where you’re going."
Harootian, who also blogs about subway artists, will start his free tour on Saturday at noon on the south mezzanine of the DeKalb Avenue station. He said he’ll consider adding more tour dates if there’s enough interest.
Here are a few places the tour will visit:
DeKalb Avenue (B/Q/R)
DeKalb Improvisation, 2005, Stephen Johnson
Glass mosaic on mezzanine walls
Harootian called the mosaic, which covers a long wall on the south mezzanine, “a Brooklyn scrapbook paying homage to the city.”
“It looks like a rip,” he said. “You see a face here, a face there.”
On the Q or B train into Manhattan from DeKalb Avenue (out the right window)
Masstransiscope, 1980, Bill Brand
228 hand-painted panels at the abandoned Myrtle Avenue station
When the train is moving full speed, the piece “looks like a flip book, like a cartoon,” Harootian said, as the shapes outside the window perform a curious ballet before turning into a rocket ship taking off.
“It’s really quick,” he warned. “If you blink, you’ll miss it.”
23rd Street (N/R)
Memories of Twenty-Third Street, 2002, Keith Godard
Glass mosaic on platform walls
Along the walls of the station are dozens of hats meant to evoke the celebrities who may have passed nearby. Names printed beneath the colorful chapeaux include Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry Houdini (whose hat hangs upside-down).
“You can see who the person was just by their hat. My favorite part is, you get to pose with them,” Harootian said, ducking underneath a top hat.
Times Square-42nd Street (A/C/E/N/R/Q/S/1/2/3/7)
Times Square Times: 35 Times, 2005, Toby Buonagurio
Ceramic plaques set into a glass-block passageway
“You can spend a whole day in the Times Square station,” which has several artists’ work on display, Harootian said.
Buonagurio’s exhibit includes 35 enclosed cases with scenes highlighting fashion, performers and New Year’s Eve revelers.
The first case shows a hand holding out a subway token.
“I don’t even know if kids now know there used to be tokens to get in the subway,” he added with a laugh.
For those who can’t make Harootian’s art crawl, the MTA has launched a new app this month that offers pictures of more than 200 works throughout the system, along with video and audio clips.