7. More Great Art in Times Square Subway Station

Jack Beal, The Return of Spring / The Onset of Winter, 2001/2005.

Times Square subway station is filled with artwork: pieces by five artists, more than any other station. Tucked away by the 41st Street exit is Jack Beal’s The Return of Spring / The Onset of Winter (2001/2005). The artist has said that the mural is a modern take on the classical myth of Persephone, who had to live part of every year underground with her abductor/husband, Pluto/Hades. Her mother Demeter, goddess of the harvest spent those months in despair and seclusion, affecting the agricultural seasons. That context makes the mosaics richer; initially, I had just been tickled by the unusually interested facial expressions of the New Yorkers as they watched the film shoot, since I’ve only witnessed a range of emotions along the tight spectrum from “Annoyed” to “Livid.”

Jacob Lawrence, New York in Transit, 2001.

Another figurative mosaic in the station is New York in Transit (2001) by Jacob Lawrence. The twentieth-century African American painter’s style is instantly recognizable: the flattened, graphic shapes; the vivid, fully-saturated colors; the layered yet shallow representation of space. The artist’s last public work, the mosaic represents the similarly layered life of the city—its simultaneity and convergence with gestures and overlap and noise. Also don’t miss Jane Dickson’s “The Revelers” featuring multiple mosaic figures, meant to represent New Year’s Eve revelry.