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The story behind the colorful Lehman College subway stop

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Thursday, March 17, 2016, 9:00 AM

The enormous work of urban art includes everything from imaginary fruits to oversized cats to 2-foot long insects.Commissioned by MTA Arts & Design/Rob Wilson

The enormous work of urban art includes everything from imaginary fruits to oversized cats to 2-foot long insects.

A vine grows in the Bronx.

The Bedford Park Boulevard subway stop is home to a community garden filled with fantastical forms, including everything from imaginary fruits to oversized cats to 2-foot long insects.

One might wonder why they’re there, but artist Andrea Dezsö says they’re the perfect fit for the station.

“It’s very urban looking and very gray and there’s not a lot of color or nature and I thought it might be interesting for children and commuters to see a little oasis of color,” she told the News.

In a statement on the Lehman College website, Dezsö explained that the idea came to her during a walk around the area.

“Lehman College has a beautiful campus with grass, trees and squirrels, but most of the neighborhood residents don’t see much nature on their streets. The red-brown-tan of the many-storied buildings and the gray of the pavement are the dominant colors on the streets.

“The extremely wide avenues, the bridges, train tracks, overpasses, garages, tire shops, a laundromat with a beautiful broken neon sign from the thirties, an old bakery, a couple of modern high-rises in the distance, a few small convenience stores and the occasional small family house give the neighborhood its urban industrial visual flavor,” she wrote.

“What if there were more colors, more playful shapes? What if there were more plants?”

Now, there are.

Artist Andrea Dezsö says the giant mosaic is a perfect fit for the Bedford Park Boulevard subway stop.Adam Gurvitch

Artist Andrea Dezsö says the giant mosaic is a perfect fit for the Bedford Park Boulevard subway stop.

“It’s in the entry as you walk in and this station at Bedford Lehman was designed as one of those street-level control houses where you come in and swipe,” MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth told the Daily News.

The station itself dates back to around 1918 Bloodworth said, but the mosaic was commissioned by MTA Arts & Design circa 2004 and installed two years later as part of a station renovation project. A portion of each renovation project budget is allocated for station art, and at this 4-line stop in the Bronx, it was Dezsö’s art that was selected.

Dezsö, now 48, first came to New York from her native Transylvania nearly two decades ago. Now, she splits her time between Jackson Heights and Massachusetts.

Though this work — called Community Garden — was her first piece of public art, it was not her first mosaic. Dezsö  works in everything from drawing to painting to sculpture to embroidery to animation.

For this project, Dezsö drew the garden in colored pencil on a 1-inch-to-1-foot scale and then had it translated into glass mosaic.

“It’s a stepping stone for the imagination, to show plants and insects that are usually on a much smaller scale towering over people,” Dezsö said. Indeed, the mosaic is larger-than-life, with 6-foot-long raspberries and insects the size of dogs.

Although there’s a main mezzanine mural that Dezsö said is around 33 feet long, there are stragglers — bugs, butterflies and snails that seem to have escaped from the mosaic and planted themselves in other parts of the station. Butterflies flutter up a flight of stairs, while a mosquito hovers near a window.

“They’re neat in that the children would be able to experience it at their eye level yet it’s larger than life and it’s a delight for the commuters,” Bloodworth said.

kblakinger@nydailynews.com


Lifestyle – NY Daily News

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