William Wegman stands with one of his newly unveiled murals. Photos © Dana Schulz for 6sqft
After four months of renovations, the 23rd Street F/M Subway reopened last week. In addition to platform repairs and tech upgrades, the station now features a series of 11 charming murals of artist William Wegman‘s infamous Weimaraners, Flo and Topper. Set against bright, colorful backgrounds, the dogs look out onto the platform as if they were waiting for the train themselves, echoing some of the emotions felt by straphangers and bringing a bit of humor and life to the subway.
Wegman told us how he loves the button detail on this mosaic. It’s the bottom piece of a candle holder!
“I wanted to create portraits of individual characters, people who you might see next to you on the platform,” explained Wegman in a statement. And in order to do this, he employed his “quirky sense of humor” and depicted the larger-than-life dogs wearing street clothes and being grouped like waiting passengers. The MTA tapped the artist — who has been taking photographs and videos of his beloved dogs for over 40 years — and long-time Chelsea resident for the project, which is called “Stationary Figures” and has been two years in the making.
After Wegman took the photos for this commission, German mosaic fabricator Mayer of Munich produced the works, meticulously translating all the textures and tones of the gray dogs into gray glass. The company’s president, Michael C. Mayer, told 6sqft it took six months to fabricate. Mayer of Munich is also well known for bringing to life Vic Muniz’s 36 life-size human portraits (which also appear to be waiting for the train) at the 72nd Street Q train station.
In addition to the bright new murals, the 23rd Street station also received substantial repair work. The MTA fixed structural steel and concrete, repaired stairways, added new railings and guardrails, put in new benches and glass doors, cleaned and repaired damaged tiles and concrete floors, and replaced platform edges. The authority also installed new technological features, including digital wayfinding and customer information screens, countdown clocks, USB charging stations, and security cameras.
Wegman’s murals join Yoko Ono’s at 72nd Street and Joyce Kozloff’s at 86th Street, as part of an ongoing initiative to modernize and renew a series of stations. Many have noted that, while the aesthetic improvements and upgrades are welcome, they fail to address the more complex issues of accessibility and train service that plague the subway system. Wegman himself touched on this in a comment to the New York Post: “I really like what they’re doing as far as making it look better,” he said. “But how to make them run better, that’s out of my area.”
- Reopened 86th Street B,C station boasts new murals inspired by Central Park and Beaux-Arts architecture
- 72nd Street B, C station outside the Dakota reopens with mosaics by Yoko Ono
- 3 Manhattan subway stations will shutter through the end of the year
All photos © Dana Schulz for 6sqft
Neighborhoods : Chelsea