Joni Younkins-Herzog poses on Lexington with her pillbug bus shelter.
Over the past few months, eclectic new bus shelters have steadily sprung up across the county, demonstrating how public art can be both beautifying and functional within the surrounding landscape. Organized by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission and Athens Transit Department, with funding from SPLOST, the project picks up where “Me, You & the Bus” left off a decade ago. The initial round of 11 artist-designed shelters, installed between 2005–2009 and still standing strong, was spearheaded as a public art project by the Athens Area Arts Council. Now, longtime favorites—like those inspired by The B52s’ “Love Shack” and R.E.M.’s Murmur Trestle, or the clever shelter welded from a real yellow school bus—will be joined by a series of new creations that continue to strengthen a sense of place and draw attention to the value of public transportation, while providing much needed seating and protection from the weather..
Like their predecessors, 15 of the new bus shelters are sculptural works fabricated by artists, with several participants responsible for creating more than one. In addition to Joni Younkins-Herzog, who poses on the cover of this week’s Flagpole with her incredible pillbug sculpture built from a Volkswagen Beetle, these artists include Lewis Body, David Card, Jessica Colangelo, Robert Cummings, Mike Ely, Richard Herzog, Chuck Murphy, Adam Owens, Yvonne Studevan and Lawrence Stueck.
Coming down the line, the rest of the 30 shelters will keep a traditional form, but each will feature a unique, customized design laser-cut into the side panels for a subtle yet fun detail. The artists selected to share their side-panel designs are Donna Abbott-Toutin, Ruth Allen, Claire Clements, Robert Clements, Rosa Cruz, John English, Will Eskridge, Alice Pruitt and Amol Saraf.