Gimme Shelter: A wait with a view to a better future?

Mayor Bill Bell poses with shelter designer, David Wilson.

Mayor Bill Bell with the artist responsible for the shelter’s design, David Wilson. The Bull City Connector itself made an appearance, rolling up to its stop just in time for the big reveal.

There’s new artwork in downtown Durham, but it’s not the usual sculpture or mural. Nope, this art comes with a few more amenities, including a place to sit and a sweet free ride, the Bull City Connector.

Last week two new shelters along the BCC’s route made their debut. The artsy stops are part of a years long collaboration from Durham Area Designers, a group dedicated to good urban design.

The stop in front of Oldham Towers, designed by Apex artist, David Wilson, depicts downtown Durham with historic photography and translucent blocks of color, giving it a stained glass appearance. A little farther down the street is a shelter dedicated to Durham blues musicians, Rev. Gary Davis, Sonny Terry and Blind Boy Fuller. More of the shelters will go up in the future. You can get a preview of the other designs at the City of Durham’s Flickr page.

A quote from Lisa Hemingway, resident and vice president of Oldham Towers, captures the feeling of the day perfectly:

“I think it’s beautiful,” Hemingway said. Too often visitors vandalize bus shelters, but with the art work “hopefully people will think of it as the city giving back, that we have a chance to grow, that better days are coming,” she said.

From the The Herald-Sun – Art while you wait

Now we all know that transit investment hasn’t always been a priority in our area (side note: have you checked out what’s in store for DATA’s future?), and at first thought, it might seem silly to beautify a bus shelter. But Ms. Hemingway makes an excellent point– art inspires us, to hope for a better day, sure, but also to connect with our environments in new ways, to appreciate what we haven’t noticed before. The new shelters make an impact even to people who don’t ride the buses that use the stop. Their value isn’t just in the service they provide to waiting riders, but also in their ability to delight and inspire community pride. No matter how you slice it, that’s just plain cool.

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