The Dallas Area Rapid Transit agency (DART) is spending $1.3 million on a public art project in Deep Ellum at one of its new rail stations, even as it plans a fare increase to balance its budget.
The work called “Traveling Man” is a three-location sculpture that depicts a man emerging from the ground, spreading his limbs and then standing tall.
Sean Fitzgerald, with the Deep Ellum Community Association, said he's glad to see the art project after another art project was demolished.
“I see it as an obligation for sure,” said Fitzgerald. “When we lost the Deep Ellum tunnel that was a big part of our identity.”
The tunnel on Good Latimer Expressway was decorated with murals to create a gateway to the Deep Ellum neighborhood.
The murals were painted by dozens of artists, supervised by Frank Campagna.
“It was a fun little Disney-type ride, you’d go down, you come up the other side, and all of a sudden you’re in magical, fantasy Deep Ellum land.”
The tunnel was demolished three years ago to make way for DART’s current rail extension project and the transit agency promised a public art project to help replace it at the new Good Latimer rail station.
“If you’re going to take something away from the neighborhood, where I come from you give something back of equal or greater value,” Campagna said.
DART riders are facing a fare increase this September, which is about the time the new Deep Ellum station opens. Fares will rise from $1.50 to $1.75.
“I don’t think that they should be raising the fares and have (spent) a million dollars on art,” said DART rider Tammy Green.
“I think that million dollars could probably be spent elsewhere during these economic times,” said Duane Murphy, another DART rider. “I don’t think it’s appropriate at this time.”
Neighborhood leaders expect a big future for Deep Ellum with the arrival of the DART rail.
Fitzgerald said he believes art is a worthy investment.
“As Deep Ellum starts really cooking and boiling again, the cost of this artwork -- it’s incubator money that’s going to be paid off many times over, over the course of time,” Fitzgerald said.