Two years ago, I moved into southern Brooklyn and started taking the Q train on a regular basis. I noticed early on that there was what seemed like the remnants of an old zoetrope behind slats in the wall of the subway tunnel, heading towards Manhattan after leaving Dekalb station. I had heard talk about there having been a grafitti artwork somewhere in the tangles of subway tunnels, but I wasn’t sure if this was actually it. A quick internet search found me exactly what I was looking for along with some good news. The zoetrope was to be renovated.
I am horribly late in posting this, but the work was, in fact, redone and, every time I leave Dekalb station on the Q line people notice it’s simple animation and fun quirky nature.
…in the last several months, with help from a grant and the transportation authority’s Arts for Transit program, Masstransiscope is once again playing to carloads of audiences on Manhattan-bound Q and B trains as they leave the DeKalb Avenue station and head toward the bridge. Over the summer Mr. Brand, with transit workers, volunteers and professional sign cleaners in Long Island City, retrieved all 228 hand-painted panels from inside the light box and began the laborious process of de-gunking them.
By early November, with no formal ceremony or even a news release from transit officials, the lights were flipped back on, and Mr. Brand’s bright, trippy, mostly abstract forms have begun to move and morph (if the train from which you see them is not crawling “due to traffic up ahead,” as conductors like to say).
“It’s a beloved piece,” said Sandra Bloodworth, the director of the Arts for Transit program, which has installed hundreds of permanent works of art throughout the subway since 1985 by artists as prominent as Roy Lichtenstein, Elizabeth Murray and Al Held. “Bill’s work happened before Arts for Transit even came about. And that’s why it really is a part of New York history. It was a little glimpse of what could come, if you will.”