What it takes to transform a SEPTA station into a $40,000 art gallery

The #TrackTakeover is a sequel to the project that put paintings on trashcans last summer.

Courtesy Brendan Lowry

Updated 4:39 p.m.

For the next month, the 6,000 Philly residents who ride the subway to Walnut-Locust Station every day will have a much classier commute.

As of Tuesday morning, every one of the 110 advertising spots at the BSL stop has been filled with art. Say goodbye — for now, at least — to the sales pitches for NRG, the SEPTA Key and even the Eagles. In their place is now a wide-ranging gallery, with works from more than two dozen local artists.

Dubbed the #TrackTakeover, the $40,000 public art project is a sequel to the popular #TrashcanTakeover, which replaced Bigbelly ads with creative images last summer.

“We’re really excited to expand that and continue to ask questions about, what is the value of our public space?” Streets Dept.‘s Conrad Benner told Billy Penn. “We’re taking spaces that would otherwise be used to sell toothpaste, and we’re highlighting the work of incredible artists.”

Courtesy Brendan Lowry

The “takeover” series are a joint effort by Benner and Brendan Lowry, the local startup founder behind the Instagram account Peopledelphia.

Thanks to funding from City Fitness, the pair was able to secure a contract for all the Walnut-Locust ad spaces from Feb. 12 though March 10. After that end date, the artworks will be sporadically used to fill up vacant SEPTA ad spots.

“I think this will be seen by more people than any project I’ve ever worked on,” observed Benner. “The amount of people who travel through that station is amazing.”

The project itself was no small undertaking. Here’s what it takes to turn a BSL station into a public art gallery:

  • $38,740.50 in ad contracts
  • 30 artists (chosen from an applicant pool of 506)
  • 30 artworks
  • 110 advertising spots
  • 2,000 square feet of ad space
  • 10 emails back and forth with SEPTA officials
  • Hundreds of emails with Intersection, a company that facilitates transit advertisements
  • 54 days (from conception to installation)
  • 10 hours to install the art
  • 10 installation crew members

“While the installation may be complete, there’s a lot more to come for this project,” Lowry told Billy Penn. “We all just can’t wait for the city to experience it.”

Courtesy Brendan Lowry
Courtesy Brendan Lowry
Courtesy Conrad Benner
Courtesy Brendan Lowry
Courtesy Brendan Lowry
Courtesy Conrad Benner

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