Waiting For the Bus: Art Takes Shelter In Miami Public Transportation

In the midst of Dade's astoundingly efficient transit system, one can expect to find a slew of interesting (or not so interesting) things: a four dimensional space with a bench, a roof, one of those nifty "No pagues ese ticket" ads, hobo urine -- you know, the bus stop basics.

But the usual amenities of public transportation will be taking a creative turn, now that Locust Projects in conjunction with Site95 has put together an exhibit of city-wide proportions.

More than 30 bus shelters around Miami will feature the work of Washington, D.C. based artist John James Anderson. The Bus Shelter Project is part of Locust Projects' public art initiative Out of the Box, in which artists are commissioned to create original work for Miami's public spaces. In addition to this, a three-part exhibit by Anderson as part of Site95's City Limits, a multi-city series, will be on display in the Project Room at Locust throughout September and October. It's all just in time to celebrate Locust's 15th anniversary. Yay, art!

Anderson's work will be on display in bus stops that surround the Design District and Miami Beach and border downtown.

"People kind of come upon it unexpectedly and sometimes they don't even know it's art. It's a great way to engage people who wouldn't necessarily step foot into a gallery space," Chana Sheldon, executive director of Locust, said of the public initiative.

Meaghan Kent, director and chief curator at Site95, thought Anderson would be a perfect addition to City Limits, which seeks to engage artists who are thinking about the urban environment in relation to their work.

"It became more aware to me once I visited Miami how important it was to be able to develop Site95 and have artists create site-specific work. To think about their own environment and how it translates to other environments," Kent said of the grass-roots nonprofit which has recently debuted its work in New York, D.C. and now Miami -- the first stop for the City Limits series.

In the Project Room, other works by Anderson engage current cultural and political issues which are pervasive to, but resonate far beyond, Washington, D.C. Maintenance Required, a project where Anderson mapped broken fire hydrants throughout his city, was a response to hydrant failures during the 2007 Eastern Market and Georgetown Library Fires. In Hours of Labor, the artist investigates the current politics of economics and immigration by hiring day laborers to create objects with him. JOB Creation Project hopes to inspire ideas for job security as Anderson personally takes to the streets of Miami in a uniform with hand-stitched details by his wife.

"I'm going to be giving people jobs," Anderson said. "Our economy lost all these jobs seemingly overnight. It's a hard pill to swallow if you're unemployed and your bills have to be paid.... I want to illustrate with the argument what the government's role is and how economics works, and those issues have been debated as long as this country has been around."

He will disseminate buttons and cards with a variety of literature, quotes from politicians, satirists, and quotes from the Book of Job (eerily appropriate). These will be on display in the gallery and Site95 will further document the performance in its October Journal.

Anderson aspires for his work to "engage from a middle road. Try to provoke some kind of discussion outside of the artistic sphere."

Miami's burgeoning art community welcomes the challenge.

City Limits opens Saturday, September 8 and runs through Wednesday, October 17 at Locust Projects, 3852 North Miami Avenue, Miami FL 33127. Opening reception is September 8 beginning with a 6 p.m. conversation with curator and artist. Reception runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. or by appointment. Bus Shelter Project on view September 2012. For more information call 305-576-8570.

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