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CTA to install $600,000 of new artwork at seven Red Line stops

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Updated: July 20, 2013 6:33AM

Though born in Detroit, graphic artist Jim Bachor couldn’t be more thrilled to have his artwork chosen for display at the Thorndale CTA station in Chicago -- the city he’s called home for 26 years.

“I’m married with two kids but it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me,’’ said Bachor, whose public art mosaic was inspired by the wild rice that once grew around the Thorndale station.

“I love the opportunity to leave a little mark on a city I can call my own.’’

Bachor, 49, is among seven artists who will be producing public art for seven Red Line North stations rehabbed last year, CTA officials announced Tuesday. Nearly 300 had competed for the honor.

The seven artists will be splitting $381,900 of a nearly $621,000 federally-funded art tab, with the larger amount covering art installation, administration, insurance and maintenance, CTA officials said.

By the year’s end, the work will join a $5 million collection of more than 50 public art pieces now on display at 41 CTA stations along the Pink, Red and Brown lines.

CTA President Forrest Claypool also announced Tuesday that the agency was putting out a “Call for Artists’’ to create nine other public artworks -- at eight Red Line South stations whose tracks are currently undergoing massive construction, as well as the Wilson station, due to be rebuilt next year. Artists’ bids are due July 18.

Claypool said he and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are committed to expanding the agency’s existing art collection to “promote a friendly and inviting atmosphere that enhances the public transit experience.”

Bachor said the mosaic that will grace the arches outside the Thorndale CTA turnstiles was conceived after he learned that Native Americans grew wild rice in the sand swales that once populated the area. The rice flowers in his mosaic, entitled “Thrive,’’ are budding with icons representing important elements of the area, including its beach, schools and historic architecture.

Chicago photographer Thomas Denlinger, 59, said his work at the Jarvis station will feature a dual collage of 24 photographs -- including local trees and the connecting spaces between area homes -- that will appear in glass panels on either side of a Jarvis stairway. In “A Neighborhood Piazza,’’ a vibrant orange pattern of photos sweeps from one wall to the next, connecting the two walls just as the station itself is a place of “connections,’’ Denlinger said.

An Edgewater resident, Denlinger said he was especially touched to win the Jarvis commission because when he first came to Chicago from California, he lived across the street from the Jarvis station.

Other commissions were announced for the Morse, Granville, Berwyn, Argyle and Lawrence stations.

Ald. Harry Osterman, whose 48th Ward will soon feature the new CTA art, gave the effort his blessing.

Said Osterman: “The artists all hit a home run.’’

The art was bankrolled with the minimum 1 percent of federal funds from CTA 2010 and 2011 projects that must be set aside for transit “enhancements,’’ including art, CTA officials said.

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