Throughout the 13.7 mile Metro Gold Line route, artist Beth Thielen has created iconic images of a red-tailed hawk, an antelope, mountains and arroyo, an oak tree, and a Gabrielino woman, and strategically embossed them into the concrete retaining walls, overpasses, and sound walls along the journey from Union Station to the Sierra Madre Villa Station. The images provide a symbolic narrative of history, nature, and movement along the line. The hawk evokes the notion of swift movement; the antelope, which used to roam in abundance in the area known as Los Angeles, is a symbol of the ever-changing landscape and the natural elements that have been lost; the mountains and arroyo suggest a permanence or sense of place-making; the oak tree, with its protected status in California, symbolizes nature’s sustainability and becomes a metaphor for our own commitment to the environment; and the Gabrielino woman refers to the story of the “Lone Woman of San Nicholas Island,” in which a Gabrielino woman remained on the Channel Island for 18 years after all her relatives were forcibly removed. Her image metaphorically reunites her to the landscape of her ancestors, and stands as a reminder to embrace the diversity among us all.
As one approaches the elevators at the Sierra Madre Villa Station parking structure, the images are reiterated in brightly colored mosaics on the pavement, and in colored plexiglass alongside the elevator enclosure. The repetition of these icons at the parking facility thematically ties together all the stations in a harmonic cadence from beginning to end, setting the tone for the rider’s visual experience.
“I used five iconic images throughout the alignment to visually connect the stations. The images reflect an understanding of place, identity, and the commonality of the region. When you create public art you are engaged in a cooperative relationship with members of the community. Creating cultural landmarks provides an opportunity to present a portrait of the community, and to evoke local pride.”
About the Artist
BETH THIELEN received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has included unique experimental book forms that represent her interests in the developmentally disabled, individuals with Alzheimer’s, and incarcerated youth and adults. Her works are included in museums, libraries, and private collections worldwide. She was the recipient of artist-in-residence grants from the California Arts Council and the Blue Mountain Center in New York.
Locations: Alignment, Sierra Madre Villa Parking and Bus Facility