Art in Between
In 2012, the director Spike Jonze asked his friend, artist and graphic designer Geoff McFetridge, to create the fictional blueprint for Los Angeles’s mass transit system for his film Her. For McFetridge, who has lived in the city for more than two decades, it was a chance to imagine an L.A. of the future. The resulting map, which makes a fleeting appearance in the movie, depicts a seamless and densely interconnected rail network that conveys Angelenos from the mountains to the sea, from downtown to the airport. Not a traffic jam in sight.
Two years after Her premiered, the L.A. County Metro Transportation Authority chose McFetridge to design the artwork for one of its stops on the Crenshaw/LAX Line, a light rail that, by 2019, will link downtown to the airport. It will traverse South Los Angeles, where the 1992 Rodney King riots ignited — an event that spurred transit planners to conceptualize the line. McFetridge’s playfully reductive graphics have animated everything from Patagonia T-shirts to gallery walls in Copenhagen, but the Metro station will be his most permanent work yet. “L.A. is still kind of a first draft,” he says. “It doesn’t have a typeface. It doesn’t have the burden of icons.” Most of the region is “in-between stuff. Check-cashing joints, doughnut shops, mini-malls — these are the things that make up L.A. I like how L.A. doesn’t fit.”
McFetridge’s station — the Westchester/Veterans stop — will stand in such an in-between zone, a residential area that bleeds into an industrial park in the working-class city of Inglewood. The paintings, which will be printed onto 20 oversize aluminum panels, depict people interacting with geometric hapes and laboring beneath their weight. Bold, poetic, and, as he says, “super, super clear,” the piece is classic McFetridge. “I was responding,” he says, “to the idea of living with the ups and downs of forces that are out of your control.”