Artworks Brighten 'T' During Renovations

Mock Cafe Distracts Harried Commuters in Kendall Square Station

There are several Boston 'T' stations where you can get a bite to eat. But in the newest subterranean restaurant, at the Kendall Square stop, appearances are deceiving.

"Eat Here," the new cafe, is "a see and be seen place with innovative architecture, a chic but casual ambiance and subdued elegance," according to a sign hanging nearby. Menu offerings include all kinds of goodies, from Turkey Primavera to Cajun Sushi to Buffalo Wings to cream puffs filled with pistachio ice cream.

But the eatery is also in a cage, its chairs bound in plastic wrap, its table umbrellas strewn with fake $100 bills, and its dust-covered tables laden with plastic grapes as well as real Perrier bottles.

According to the artwork's sculptor, A.E. Ryan, "Eat Here" was inspired by the transformation of Kendall Square from a "pretty, low key factory area to a very upbeat, yuppie, high-tech area."

Ryan's work is one of the most noticeable parts of the ArtStops Program, developed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to alleviate commuter annoyance during the $80 million reconstruction program. One half of one percent of the budget will be devoted to art, said George V. Hines, an MBTA management analyst.

Ryan, a Brookline artist whose works also appear in galleries in New York and Boston, is one of the 21 artists commissioned to create temporary works for the stations. Each is allotted a $3500 stipend to develop up to three works, according to ArtStops Program Administrator Linda Woolford.

"Eat Here" was doing a fine job of attracting attention away from the renovations last week, and most passersby interviewed said they approved of the pseudo-eatery.

Said Robert Cherayil, a pediatrician at Whitehead Institute, "it's a very good idea. People waiting for subways might well deserve the diversion."