Look up, train travelers. A ride along a northeast Philadelphia rail corridor just became far more intriguing.
This weekend, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, one of the largest public art programs in the country, celebrates the official debut of psychylustro, a site-specific contemporary installation of epic proportions.
Thanks to Mural Arts Program’s ever-evolving mission of producing stunning, community-engaged public artwork, this just-completed work has transformed a stretch of the urban landscape along Amtrak’s northeast corridor between 30th Street and North Philadelphia stations.
Created by world-renowned Berlin-based visual artist Katharina Grosse, psychylustro is a temporary large-scale contemporary visual art installation in seven parts.
Designed to be viewed from the window of a moving train, intense swaths of bright color and swirling design adorn warehouse walls, small buildings and green spaces buildings.
The paint is temporary, though, and will fade and erode with the elements. Thus, psychylustro is a nonpermanent exhibit that will change over time as the environment is allowed to take its toll on the alfresco works of art.
The bold installation plays with perspective and scale — works themselves are massive, some soaring stories high, but to passersby on the train, they become small and fleeting.
Grosse, whose work has been commissioned by such celebrated institutions as Paris’ Palais de Tokyo and the UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, is well known for her signature use of dynamic, bold color in works that span multiple mediums and often engage with the environment.
A massive undertaking, the installation process — lead by Grosse with help from local artists including Diana Gonzalez, Nathaniel Lee, Charles Newman, Darin Rowland, Felix St. Fort and Thomas Walton — began on April 29, and wraps up to debut the completed work this Saturday, May 17.
For more on psychylustro, see below.
Getting There & Audio Tour
To see the public art project, one need only buy a train ticket. Each of the seven passages are visible to passengers on Amtrak (traveling between Philadelphia and New York), SEPTA Regional Rail (Chestnut Hill West and Trenton lines) and New Jersey Transit (Atlantic City line) between Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station and North Philadelphia Station, a 12-minute train ride.
Some sections will also be visible from vehicle and pedestrian bridges along the corridor. See the map of installation sites for the exact locations of the series of seven works.
To listen to an audio tour of the installation while riding the train, call 215-525-1045 to hear interviews with the artist, learn more about the rail corridor and experience an audio interpretation by sound artist Jesse Kudler.
Note that the public is warned not to attempt to walk along, cross or approach train tracks. Of course, we all know that trespassing on railroad property is extremely dangerous (read: Don’t walk on train tracks, folks).
To celebrate the grand opening of psychylustro, the bold color palette employed by Grosse in the installation will appear in neon lights on the Cira Centre’s LED facade at night on Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17 and Sunday, May 18.
On Sunday, May 18, Katharina Grosse and Carlos Basualdo, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, present a free talk at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Not only is the talk free, but museum admission is also free on Sunday thanks to International Museum Day. Tickets are required to ensure seating, so reserve seats now right here.
Don’t miss this opportunity for what might be the train ride of your life.
Trust us, you’ll want a window seat.
When: Grand opening, Saturday, May 17
Where: Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, 30th Street and North Philadelphia stations
Cost: Free; Visible from railway lines with regular rail tickets
More info: www.muralarts.org