City Puts Subway Art On the Line

In an attempt to alleviate the nuisance caused by construction, the MBTA this week is inviting artists to apply for gallery space in six Boston subway stations along the Red and Green lines.

Painters, sculpters, playwrights, and puppeteers will be displaying their work in the Central Square, Park Street, Kendall Square, Washington Street, Street, and Essex (Chinatown) stations.

Arts on the Line, the brainchild of the Cambridge Arts Council, will be accepting applications for the subway art projects through Friday. Arts on the Line is working in conjunction with the MBTA, which is providing $20,000 for each of the six sites.

The exhibits will begin sometime this spring, and continue until the MBTA completes the stations in the fall of 1987.

The project, which will last 18 months, differs from other Boston-sponsored art programs in its diversity and short duration, according to MBTA officials. Normally, artwork done for the city is of durable material, capable of lasting 75 years.

But this program emphasizes "more ephemeral work," said project administrator Katherine S. Mayes. Poets, dancers, musicians, a woman who works with steam, an MIT holograph artist, and a clown have all submitted work to Arts on the Line, Mayes said.

Calling the subway arts program a "unique opportunity" for aspiring local artists, Mayes said the high visibility and scope of creations contributes to the popularity of Arts on the Line. "It's extraordinarily generous of [the MBTA] to do this," Mayes said yesterday.

The director of Arts on the Line, Pallace Lombardi, said that good results in the past are the reason for the MBTA's expansion of art projects. "People are very responsive to the art, as the project has shown over the past eight years [during which her group was in charge of the art]," Lombardi said.

"The T knows that they're causing disruption, and would like to make it more tolerable," Lombardi said. She added that MBTA's effort is "the positive creation of a very wonderful thing.

Subway riders at the Harvard Square station yesterday afternoon had words of praise for the proposed project. "It's worth coming down to the T just for the art," said one midafternoon commuter. Said another, "It's all right, it's kind of European."