Even if you didn’t manage to board the historic train cars at Grand Central in May, you can still go back in time, courtesy of 18 artists featured in the GCT exhibition in the New York Transit Museum Annex, On Time: Grand Central at 100.
Inspired by The Clock and the continual flow of people and trains through Grand Central, MTA Arts for Transit cooked up a delightful mix of contemporary 2D works, models, videos, and digital art that puts a smile on the face of every commuter, tourist, and art-seeker that we’ve seen inside the tiny Annex.
Have you seen the mysterious Zeppelin posters by Lothar Osterburg on the subway? Right in the Annex window you’ll see the gigantic, fun-house model that he created to photograph as one step in the process of making the photogravure you see on the A train. Kids and parents can’t resist Lothar’s newspaper-covered multi-story GCT impression and the funny, fat yellow old-time taxis and zeppelin ends that poke out. Right next to it, you can examine his resulting print, Zeppelins Docking on Grand Central.
People are usually transfixed by the 2008 video documenting Frozen Grand Central, where Improv Everywhere staged a 250-person flash mob, where people “froze” for 5 minutes as commuters, tourists, and workers wondered what was going on.
Another hit is Grand Central Diary. London Squared Productions interviewed tourists and commuters about GCT, animated the furniture and items around the terminal, and…well, just watch The Clock and the Maintenance Cart speak for themselves:
Nearby, several small digital screens show Alexander Chen’s Conductor, a 15-minute video loop that animates the subway lines, suggesting trains moving through the system. He turns the subway lines into an animated stringed instrument. No wonder he’s working for Google Creative Labs. Spend a few moments, take a look, and experience it here.
Another must-see piece (among many) is Jane Greengold’s Lost and Found. She’s created a sort-of fiction about the dozens of tagged items in the vitrine, evoking the memories and observations of generations of conductors who found items that train passengers left behind. Actually, the items you’re looking at are actual leave-behinds collected by real-life conductors, so Jane’s work isn’t entirely made up. The archeological discoveries include things from the old Lake Shore Limited on the NY Central, a 1948 boxed baby tooth, 1943 ration cards, 1952 Viewmasters, a Kennedy campaign button, and a Kindle.
Get to the Annex before July 7. In the meantime, check out curator Amy Hausmann and her artists telling about the fun they had contemplating time, architecture, fashion, and Jackie O.