Bleecker Street Artwork Honored

Hive (Bleecker Street), a light installation for the Bleecker Street 6 Subway station by Leo Villareal, was honored last month by Americans for the Arts at its annual conference, recognizing the work as part of the year in review of the Public Art Network (PAN). The PAN Year in Review is the only national program recognizing projects of excellence in public art.

Commissioned by MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design, the LED sculpture takes the form of a honeycomb, dramatically filling an architectural space in the shape of an ellipse above the stairs that marks the new transfer point connecting the 6 Subway with the B SubwayD SubwayF SubwayM Subway subway lines. The enormous ceiling, hovering overhead, becomes a type of illuminated diagram as vivid colors, outlining each hexagonal honeycomb shape, move across the sculpture. In his use of technology and LEDs, Villareal created an unprecedented art experience for transit riders.

Hive (Bleecker Street) has a playful aspect in its reference to games. Riders will be able to identify individual elements within a larger context and track this movement. The work explores the compulsion to recognize patterns and the brain’s hard-coded desire to understand and make meaning. The art speaks to a diverse audience – it is abstract and evocative and can have many different meanings. It creates an experience for riders through changing patterns presented in randomized progression. Overall, the piece resonates with the activity of the station, transportation network and the city itself.

“The artwork brings an innovative and playful spirit to the station, creating a recognizable identity for the new transfer point while reflecting contemporary times and the creative community surrounding Broadway-Lafayette,” explains Katherine Meehan, project manager, Arts for Transit and Urban Design, who coordinated the installation.

Artist Leo Villareal is known internationally for his light sculptures and site-specific architectural works. Another recent installation is The Bay Lights, a monumental light sculpture and art installation on the San Francisco Bay Bridge that commemorates the 75th anniversary of its opening.