South Phoenix light rail extension includes 11 cultural art installations

Feb 8, 2018, 2:22 PM | Updated: 3:30 pm
The light rail extension will end at Central Avenue and Baseline Road and is set to be completed in...
The light rail extension will end at Central Avenue and Baseline Road and is set to be completed in 2023. (Leah Goldberg/Cronkite News)
(Leah Goldberg/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX — The 6-mile South Central Light Rail Extension expected to be completed in 2023 not only will provide transportation through south and downtown Phoenix, it will honor the diverse people and cultures that make South Phoenix such a vibrant community.

“There is something magical about Phoenix, Arizona,” said Gabriel Fortoul, an artist from Union City, New Jersey. “It is in the land, it is in the air, it is in the community of people that are here, right now, people that live in South Phoenix.”

Fortoul is one of 150 artists who responded to the Valley Metro Rail Board’s nationwide search for artists to design cultural art installations at each stop. All of the 14 artists were chosen by South Phoenix community members and 10 are Phoenix locals.

The extension will move along Central Avenue from the existing light-rail system in downtown Phoenix to Baseline Road. The extension could lead to an increase in jobs and boost local businesses as they become more accessible.

“This is a neighborhood improvement project in itself,” said Julie Cruz Gilfillan, Valley Metro community outreach coordinator. She noted the deeply rooted history and diverse culture of South Phoenix.

“Throughout the process, we want to make sure that we are including the community and working with them along the way,” she said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2015 report, about 60 percent of South Phoenix’s population is Hispanic. The African-American and Anglo community are almost tied at about 17 percent, with the remaining 2.2 percent being Asian, 1.3 percent mixed and 2.6 percent identified as “other.”

Eva Olivas grew up in South Phoenix and now is the executive director of the Phoenix Revitalization Corp., which covers South Phoenix. She calls the extension crucial. Olivas wants to see the 14 artists “embed the feeling of neighborhoods into the light-rail station” after years of underrepresentation in history and development of this community.

“Not just the history from 100 years ago, and not just about what could come in 100 years, but what’s here today,” she said.

The “South Side” has a history of low-income households, especially within its large Hispanic and African-American populations.

In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau found that the 95th percentile of Phoenix’s household income makes about $175,000 and in South Phoenix, $128,000. The middle percentile of household incomes in Phoenix are $47,000 and slightly lower in South Phoenix at $42,000.

“Art is something that should be made available to all communities regardless of social or economic situation,” Martin Moreno, one of the 10 local artists, said of the project. “So this just kind of reinforces that philosophy.”

Moreno and Emily Costello, another local artist chosen for the project, have lived in South Phoenix all their lives. Moreno and Costello’s art installation will be made of standalone cutout steel, framed with hand-painted tiles. They will design panels with six designs representing cultures and concepts of South Phoenix: The African-American community, the Native American community, education, religion and faith.The two artists said they want to make the public a part of their work and are planning to invite South Phoenix community members to paint the tiles in future workshops.

At the Valley Metro and city of Phoenix meeting over the weekend, seven of the 14 artists presented about 30 percent of their initial art concepts to South Phoenix community members in a town hall style setting. After, the artists spoke individually with residents to answer questions and take suggestions for their concepts.

Valley Metro board members said they will consider safety before approving the artworks for final installation.

Many artists and project members, including New York artist Mark Reigelman, said it’s rare for members of the public to get so involved in a development project.

“I hope that the community understands what is happening for this project because it doesn’t happen very often,” Reigelman said. “So having a good variety of super talented artists, I hope, will help propel South Phoenix to be kind of a go-to spot for young contemporary art.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Twitter photo / @ArizonaDOT)...

Crash on I-17 sends 5 to hospital; freeway closed in north Phoenix

A vehicle collision on Interstate-17 southbound near Loop 101 and Bell Road hospitalized five people and led to a freeway closure Thursday.
23 hours ago
(Facebook photo/ Phoenix Police Department)...

Man arrested in Phoenix after traffic stop leads to discovery of 39,000 fentanyl pills

A driver was arrested last week after authorities discovered over 39,000 fentanyl pills and $15,000 in the car during a traffic stop.
23 hours ago
(ADOT Photo)...

ADOT opens 4-mile State Route 24 extension in far East Valley

The Arizona Department of Transportation opened a new four-mile stretch of State Route 24 in the East Valley on Thursday.
23 hours ago
(AP photos)...
Danny Shapiro

Maricopa County asks court to sanction Lake, Finchem over ‘demonstrably false’ election suit

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is asking a court to sanction Kari Lake, Mark Finchem and their lawyers for filing an election lawsuit they say is frivolous.
23 hours ago
(Jan Brewer and Kari Lake/Facebook Photos)...

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer wants Lake to stop elections rhetoric, pivot to policy

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Wednesday she wants Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake to stop her elections rhetoric and start focusing on policy issues ahead of November's general election.
23 hours ago
(KTAR News Photo)...

DPS says traffic stop suspect shot at troopers near I-17 in Phoenix

Arizona highway troopers exchanged gunfire in Phoenix with a suspect who initially refused to yield to a traffic stop, then took off on foot Wednesday night.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
South Phoenix light rail extension includes 11 cultural art installations