CTA Trains Inspire New TRANSIT Art Exhibit

Artist Nick Fury and Vertical Gallery Owner Patrick Hull

Artist Nick Fury and Vertical Gallery Owner Patrick Hull

Most of us view CTA trains as merely a means of transportation. But then, most of us aren’t artists. Nick Fury sees artistic possibilities in CTA signs, tickets, trains, and even accidents.

Take, for example, the early morning March 24, 2014 crash of a Blue Line train at O’Hare Airport. Fury began drawing, and the result is his three-part series, titled (naturally) “Dozed Off.”

The three works ($450 each) are part of an exhibit that began June 28 at Vertical Gallery, 1016 North Western Avenue in Ukrainian Village. The “TRANSIT” exhibit runs through June 28. All works on display use as subject matter the trains we use every day to get around the city.

“We change the theme every month, and we focus on urban art,” said Vertical Gallery owner Patrick Hull. “The idea was to find artists who use different mediums for their work and all use subway trains as subject matter.”

Other local artists whose work appears in TRANSIT are J.C. Rivera, Nick Fury, Paradigm Shift, and Jonathan Michael Johnson. Nick Fury is a noted expert in both street art and any art using transit as subject matter.

Transit Artist Nick Fury

Transit Artist Nick Fury

Way before he got interested in CTA-inspired art, Fury considered a future as an architect. As a kid, he loved building structures with Legos. Eventually, he found his creative calling. He took courses in graphic design through high school, and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He received a degree from the American Academy of Art and earned a BFA from Columbia College.

Fury dabbles in street art, but for the most part, his work hangs in galleries. He’s also received commissions from major brands. But there’s nothing he loves more than creating a work using a CTA train as subject matter. 

The trio of works in the “Dozed Off” series uses a stark white-on-brown color scheme. Fury used standard Swarthmore 300 grade cold press paper, then dyed it brown. The white detail comes from an unusual source: typewriter correcting tape.

“It’s very hard tool to control,” Fury explained. “You can only go one direction. I work with it a lot, so I’ve learned how to control it. It’s very graphic.”

Fury described the genesis of some of his other works on display in TRANSIT, as being based in one way or another on transit accidents and disasters. 

Cope2-Canal Street Station

Cope2-Canal Street Station

“Some people, when they see it, they realize, ‘I think I’ve seen this before!’”

Of course, what they remembered was seeing the news coverage of the accident, like the O’Hare Blue Line train mashing up against a (fortunately) empty escalator.

Fury sees beauty—or at least the opportunity to create beauty—from any type of L train accident. He described another work, inspired by a CTA train with a snowplow attached to the front car. The train, he said, got stuck in the snow. He enjoys including irony like that.

Location: 1016 North Western Avenue, Ukrainian Village

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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