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36th Street

Owen Smith

An Underground Movement: Designers, Builders, Riders, 1998

Ceramic mosaic on mezzanine walls; ceramic mosaic medallions on stairway walls

Owen Smith designed this brilliantly colored mosaic work with Brooklyn riders in mind, as "a celebration of the working people who have made the subway what it is today." The subject matter is the subway's creation and importance. Smith said, "The west wall depicts the designers and engineers who achieved this great engineering feat. The north wall pays tribute to the workers who dug the tunnels and laid the 680 miles of track. And the third panel represents the people who use the subway every day and whose lives are improved by it." Smith highlights popular pastimes and haunts in the murals; on the Manhattan-bound side the Rockettes are seen kicking their heels, and on the Brooklyn-bound platform Smith depicts a brownstone with Coney Island in the background. Smith cites Diego Rivera and other WPA era muralists as influences, and designed his murals in their spirit.

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