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East/West Station Art

Location: East/West Boulevard Light Rail Station

Artists: Shawn Cassidy, Leticia Huerta

Date: 2007

Media: Steel and Aluminum, acrylic, tile, pavers

Artist Info: www.leticiahuerta.com


Story:  Federal Transit Administration Circular 9400.1A encourages the inclusion of art in transit systems. According to the circular, "Good design and art can improve the appearance and safety of a facility, give vibrancy to its public spaces, and make patrons feel welcome." In other word, design matters. For the Blue Line, up to 1% of design and construction costs was set aside to create public art. CATS Arts in Transit program hired artists as part of design teams. The resulting art is often functional, and integrated into the architecture.


Shawn Cassidy, a professor of art at Winthrop University, designed the leaf patterns for the station track fencing. Artist Leticia Huerta designed the windscreens, column mosaics, and the paving pattern on the platform. 


Key Formal Elements:

  • Organic shape of the leaf contrasts with the strict geometry of the fence and tracks
  • Repetition of patterns in the mosaics and windscreens

Make the Connection:

One of the design themes of the public art on the Blue Line is a focus on nature. Cassidy fabricated 40 sculptural leaves to be inserted into the track fencing. A different species of tree that is native to this area is featured at each station. At the East/West station, Cassidy sculpted beech tree leaves. Look closely at the leaf. The interior vein pattern is a street map showing the location of the station and its surroundings. Can you find your spot on the leaf?


Huerta uses the image of a cotton plant on the windscreens, column mosaics and pavers.  The growing of cotton and the building of cotton mills contributed to the industrialization of South End. Atherton Mill, located just down the tracks, was one of three mills owned by D.A. Tompkins and was the first industrial building in the street-car suburb of Dilworth.

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East/West Concrete Reliefs

Location:  East/West Boulevard Light Rail Station

Artist: Alice Adams

Date: 2007

Media: Molded Concrete 

Artist Info: www.aliceadamssculpture.com


Story:  Renowned public artist Alice Adams was hired by CATS Arts in Transit as a lead designer for the Blue Line. Her contribution here is the design for the reliefs on the cheekwall. The cheekwall is the low wall that separates the station platform from the light rail tracks. 


Key Formal Elements:

  • Relief sculptural type, meaning the design projects from the background
  • Texture

Make the Connection:

Again, it is nature. Working with the theme of indigenous trees and plant life, each pre-cast concrete mold is a different tree leaf. This station features the “Hornbeam” tree, which is a flowering hardwood tree with a pleated leaf and serrated edges.  

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East/West Water Basins

Location: Bland Street Light Rail Station

Artist: Nancy Blum

Date: 2007

Media: Bronze

Artist Info: www.nancyblum.com


Story: Nancy Blum, accomplished artist and recipient of the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Grant, created these whimsical water fountain basins. As part of CATS Arts in Transit, Blum designed these 18-inch diameter cast bronze basins as functional water fountains. They are installed at 13 light rail stations on the Blue line. 


Key Formal Elements:

  • Texture of the bronze
  • Repetition of the blossoms and inscribed lines creates unity

Make the Connection:

The design of the water basins is based on dogwood tree blossoms. The flowering blossom of the dogwood tree was designated as the North Carolina state flower in 1941. Its white or pink blossoms are incredibly common throughout our area during spring. The inscribed background design is based on the mathematical Fibonacci sequence, found in a variety of trees and flowers, and generally of a spiral nature. 

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Beautiful Utilities

Location: 176 East Boulevard

Artist: Laurie Smithwick

Date: 2018

Media: Printed vinyl

Artist Info: @upsidedown


Story: Through a South End Creative Lab Grant from @historicsouthend, the Amplify the Signal project sponsored eight artists to cover traffic signal boxes along South Boulevard. Local artist Laurie Smithwick was the project manager for this creative endeavor.


Key Formal Elements:

  • Cool colors
  • Outline

Make the Connection:

The Amplify the Signal project takes utilitarian boxes and turns them into art. Beauty meets function! The soft flowing colors of Smithwick’s composition reflect the flow of pedestrians through this area. Dynamic lines and circles perhaps suggests the constant movement of the light rail and automobiles.  

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Life in Transit

Location: 118 E. Kingston Avenue

Artist: Kate Stewart with Holt School of Fine Arts students

Date: 2017 

Media: Acrylic on aluminum panels

Artist Info: @katestewartfineart, @holtschooloffineart


Story: These murals are a Charlotte Rail Trail project. The Charlotte Rail Trail is a public/private venture that sponsors a variety of unique projects along the 3.5-mile-long walkway of the Blue Line. Projects range from murals to sculpture, functional art to “yarn bombing,” and just about everything in between. The Dilworth Artisan Station houses studio space for many local artists and this project draws attention to the creative arts housed in the building. Lead artist Kate Stewart earned a BFA from Radford University and is a partner in the Holt School of Fine Art which offers art classes to children and adults. 


Key Formal Elements:

  • Repetition
  • Warm colors of orange and yellow

Make the Connection:

An artist with a studio in the building, Kate Stewart, worked with students from the Holt School of Fine Arts to create designs for 20 aluminum panels installed in bricked-in windows on the façade. If you are walking during business hours, check out @hodgestaylorac gallery located in the bottom floor of the building and the Holt School of Fine Arts. 

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Kingston Connection, Chalkboard, Roosters

Location: Charlotte Rail Trail

Artists: NA

Date: 2015

Media: mixed media

Artist Info: @railtrailclt


Story:  This is another Charlotte Rail Trail project. Working with the Charlotte Department of Transportation, the Kingston Ave Connection was constructed allowing for a new access ramp connecting the Rail Trail and the street. The creative stair railings were added in the color yellow to signify a Rail Trail project.  The unique and varied projects along the Rail Trail are important placemaking tools. The chalkboard and the roosters are one of its first projects and are both spontaneous additions by architect David Furman.  Furman is a prominent architect and developer and one of the driving forces behind the Charlotte Rail Trail and South End development.


Key Formal Elements:

  • Unity provided by color yellow
  • Variety of projects at this one location

Make the Connection:

The chalkboard and the roosters are examples of “guerilla art.” "Guerilla art" is a method of making art where the artist leaves anonymous art pieces in public locations. 


The original prompt on the chalkboard was “Before I die I want to…” and the prompt now is “I wish I had the courage to…” It is cleaned weekly and always full by a Monday morning. What do you wish you had the courage to do? 

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Sculpture

Location: Charlotte Rail Trail

Artist: David Furman

Date: 2015

Media: Industrial machine parts

Artist Info: @centrocityworks


Story: This is another Charlotte Rail Trail project. The Charlotte Machine Co. was located on this site from 1925 until 2015. After it closed, parts from the factory were salvaged and reused in the making of this sculpture by architect David Furman. If you are walking during business hours, be sure to step in the lobby of 1616 Camden and check out the exhibition on the history of the site.  


Key Formal Elements:

  • Circular shapes
  • Unity of yellow color for Rail Trail projects

Make the Connection

South End is one of the fastest growing residential areas of Charlotte. Small but defined projects like this sculpture make sure we remember our past even when confronted with our present. 

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Camden Wall

Location: East/West Boulevard Light Rail Station

Artist: Tom Thoune

Date: 2007

Media: mosaic 

Artist Info: @tom_thoune


Story: Thirty-three separate machine cog shapes make up this 360-foot long wall running along Camden Road. Thoune’s own hand-made pieces combine with donations of tile, china, and glass from members of the community. The artist was a resident at the McColl Center when he completed the work on this community-based project. 


Key Formal Elements:

  • Texture
  • Variety

Make the Connection:

The different machine cog shapes relate to South End’s industrial past and inside each shape are many unique references to the area. Try looking for some of these images – depictions of Atherton Mill, cotton and magnolia blossoms, and various depictions of bottle trees. A bottle tree comes from African-American traditions and is often used to capture or ward off evil spirits. Thoune uses it several times to connect to stories of Dilworth and Wilmore. The artwork celebrates the everyday item in materials coming together to make a beautiful collective work of art that reflects this diverse community.

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Confetti Hearts Wall

Location: Design Center of the Carolinas Atrium along West Worthington

Artist: Evelyn Henson

Date: 2018

Media: Acrylic paint

Artist Info: @evelyn_henson


Story: Commissioned by Asana Partners, a real estate development firm located in Charlotte, artist Evelyn Henson captures our hearts with her “painting happy art to brighten your day.” Henson started painting 6 years ago and this mural marks her first public art project. I’d say it is a wild success. 


Key Formal Elements:

  • Repetition
  • Polychromatic color scheme

Make the Connection:

Instagram walls. Who knew we needed them. Here Henson makes a nice transition from her brightly colored more intimate scaled art to work on a large 40 square foot public mural and enter the arena of Instagrammable walls.  Go ahead and take your selfie. This spot may eventually rival the “Fibonacci Mural” in NoDa as Charlotte’s most popular Instagram mural. Make sure you use the tag #confettiheartswall and #artwalksclt. 

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Mexican Mermaid

Location: 1999 Hawkins Street

Artist: Sharon Dowell

Date: 2018

Media: Acrylic paint

Artist Info: @sharon_dowell


Story: Sharon Dowell worked with Asana Partners on this commission for the upper wall of the Design Center of the Carolinas. Dowell is a rock star of Charlotte art and this is her first major work in South End. Her large-scale mural is 10 feet by 90 feet and includes a mermaid and Dowell’s familiar graphics.


Key Formal Elements:

  • Saturated colors
  • Asymmetrical balance

Make the Connection:

Dowell’s work revels in bold, colorful patterns and shapes. “Karla” the mermaid (named after her model) dominates this mostly horizontal composition. The black tattoos on her figure represent the past and present business of South End. Which ones can you connect to businesses you have seen in South End or you know were part of its past?

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Zeppelin Mural

Location: 235 West Tremont Ave 

Artist: Jen Hill with assistance from Matt Moore

Date: 2017

Media: Acrylic

Artist Info: @2hills and @puckmcgruff


Story: Zeppelin, an upscale restaurant and bar commissioned Jen Hill to paint a mural for their side wall. Hill, a relatively new mural artist, is making her mark quickly. Her graphic, pop art inspired art celebrates women, bright colors, and anything sparkly and glittery. 


Key Formal Elements:

  • Cool color scheme with the purples, to blues, to greens
  • Outline around the edge of the zeppelin

Make the Connection:

Make the Connection: A woman aviator graces the right side of the zeppelin ship. Her bright lipstick and long thick lashes gives her a pop art or comic book style. She confidently meets your gaze. How many female zeppelin pilots are there do you think? Google it.

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Magic Carpet Murals

Location: Charlotte Rail Trail

Artists: Jesse Unterhalter and Katey Truhn

Date: 2016

Media: Acrylic paint

Artist Info: @jessieandkatey


Story: Baltimore-based artists Unterhalter and Truhn created this piece with lots of community involvement. Community workshops were held with several different groups and locations to gather input for three separate murals along the Rail Trail. This artist duo is known for their large-scale murals and community-based art. 


Key Formal Elements:

  • Geometric patterns
  • Repetition of shapes

Make theConnection:

Murals are supposed to be on walls, right. Not always. The artists use saturated color, patterns suggestive of textiles, and movement to create a dynamic and fun artwork literally on the rail trail. This mural rivals popular sites in NoDa for the most Instagrammed artwork. The uptown skyline makes a perfect background!

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Yarn Bombing

Location: Charlotte Rail Trail

Artists: Kia Jones, Amy Reader, Sydney Sogol

Date: 2015 

Media: Yarn

Artist Info: @amyreaderartist, @sydsthread


Story: This is another Charlotte Rail Trail project and was funded through an Art Place America grant. The artists are three fiber artists. Reader is a local artist, Sogal is Durham based.   


Key Formal Elements:

  • Texture
  • Pattern

Make the Connection:

Yarn bombing is a type of graffiti or street art that uses colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fiber arts. The artists were inspired by the textile history of South End and the movement of people and cyclists on the Rail Trail. 

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Exclamation Point

Location: Charlotte Rail Trail

Artist: David Furman

Date: 2015

Media: Aluminum

Artist Info: @centrocityworks


Story: This is another Charlotte Rail Trail project created by architect David Furman. Furman designed this work after being inspired by similar sculptures in other cities. There’s another exclamation point in Oklahoma City, OK.  Ours has become a marker for the area, as in “I’ll meet you at the Exclamation Point.” 


Key Formal Elements:

  • Free-standing
  • Scale

Make the Connection:

Artists often play with scale in art for expressive means. The scale of this exclamation point is obviously larger than what it should be so our expectations of the familiar object are altered. How does this sculpture make you feel? 

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Camden Signal House

Location: Camden Road and W. Tremont intersection

Artist: Leigh Brinkley

Date: 2012 

Media: Acrylic

Artist Info: Facebook @Brinkley-Design-LLC


Story: The signal house contains electronics that run the light rail. Designer Leigh Brinkley painted the utilitarian building to capture the quirky vibe of the neighborhood and provide some signage to announce South End.


Key Formal Elements:

  • Curvilinear lines flow around the sides
  • Complementary color scheme of red in the letters and greens on the walls

Make the Connection:

As a designer, Brinkley was inspired by textile patterns with the loose flowing lines that contrast so nicely with the straight lines of the railroad tracks and the straight lines of the buildings. Do you notice the patterns inside the letters atop the building?

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Sculpture

Location: Charlotte Rail Trail

Artist: David Furman

Date: 2019

Media: Wood and aluminum frame

Artist Info: @centrocityworks


Story:  Architect David Furman often contributes works of art to the Rail Trail. Unexpectedly sometimes. Like this one which showed up in 2019. Furman has been creating work like this for years in his studio and this is a new work he designed by deconstructing two older sculpture to create a new one for this space.


Key Formal Elements:

  • Monochromatic color
  • Free-standing

Make the Connection:

Inspired by the work of American sculptor Louise Nevelson, Furman creates assemblages. An assemblage is art made by assembling or bringing together disparate elements – often everyday objects – to create a new work. While the variety of different shapes, negative spaces, and surfaces make your eye wander, the use of a single color brings unity to the work. Can you look closely at the work and find an object that looks familiar?