Profile: Belmont CTA Artist David Lee Csicsko

by crandell | 07/24/2009

This is the first of 8 heads to grace the tops of 4 columns that will be viewed from the street. Inside is a 6 ft tall by 20 ft mosaic of a WONDERFUL TRAIN.
WE ALL RIDE THE TRAIN TOGETHER -- this is the big mosaic mural.
More of the colorful mosaic art for the columns at Belmont.
Eye detail shot.

David Lee Csicsko is a Chicago artist who recently won the commission for the new public art installation at the rebuilt Belmont CTA station following a competitive public selection process. The station and artwork are expected to be completed by the end of this year (view work-in-progress on the right). His Belmont 2000 work, which was originally intended as a temporary installation, had been on display at the old station since 1999 and was removed for the station construction.

What's the name of your new Belmont CTA piece, and how does it relate to the transit experience and to Lakeview?

It could be called Belmont a Go Go or WE ALL RIDE TOGETHER. The art is about showing the diversity of the people who ride the train. The main art mural is a FANTASTIC TRAIN WITH MANY RIDERS. All of the people on the train have multi-striped complexions, and the completed artwork will be just so splendid, with bright rich strong colors -- it should be a pretty exciting visit to the station.

Then of course I just think that Belmont is such a thriving community of all different people. This design is a celebration of the wonderful energy of the Belmont area & the people who live in, and travel through it. Young children, hip cats, normal Joe's & Jane's, and wise seniors, are all represented. The people featured here, in mod cameos, are diverse and fun, embracing our multicultural city and neighborhood.

I had also done the previous art at Belmont, and people were familiar with that. Since a lot of people were really fond of that art, I didn't want to go too far from that.

I really love that idea of diverse lives all coming together on the train -- for me that's a big part of what makes transit special. Are there any special transit moments you've experienced that influenced your work?

One thing that inspired my design was traveling through the great old train stations in Europe, specifically in London -- grand Victorian train stations like Victoria Station and Paddington Station. I was thinking about just how wonderful it is to take a train ride. I wanted to create a kind of fantasy of a Victorian train -- only thrown into the future of 2010.

How long have you lived in Chicago and what's your favorite thing about living here?

I've been living here since 1982, but I grew up in Hammond, Ind., so that's not very far. My favorite part of living here is that there's so much to do -- it's one of the liveliest cities anywhere in the world. And I really love spending time at the lake.

What does it mean to you to win the Belmont CTA commission?

I was just absolutely delighted. I live in the neighborhood and it was great to be a part of Belmont for the last 10 years with the Belmont 2000 work. So it's exciting to now have a permanent installation. I love being a contributor to my city and my neighborhood and am happy to have been able to contribute work to other cultural institutions in the city. Creating a lasting work of art that many people will get to enjoy is extremely fulfilling.

Hurrah for this to the two

Hurrah for this to the two Lees! (Lee Crandell and David Lee Csicsko)

Andrew Patner -- Chicago

shouldn't there be a

shouldn't there be a "pickpocketer's head", the "mugger/rapists' head", too? They ride the trains as well.

Not enough mosaics around I

Not enough mosaics around I think, think these are a very nice addition

Yes of course, "shouldn't

Yes of course, "shouldn't there be," the goal is definitely to scare people away from public transportation. That way, we can all drive home drunk on the weekends like the suburbanites.

I feel very fortunate to be

I feel very fortunate to be a part of this exciting project. Not only does it represent the cultural diversity of Chicago, but captures it in a playful artistic way using glass. We are so proud to bring life to David's creative mind!

I like this artwork, it

I like this artwork, it looks fun! People who need to move around Chicago by train will enjoy this for years to come.