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CTA announces largest art project in history

In what the CTA is billing the largest public artwork program in its history, the agency has tapped Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates to create artwork for the 95th Street Red Line station, which will undergo renovation next year, the agency announced Friday.

The $1.3 million art project would include hiring and training 10 people and an apprenticeship program for students.

The agency plans to spend $1 million for the design, fabrication and installation of the works. Community engagement activities, including five public meetings, will cost $50,000. The artist fee is $250,000.

The money will come from the CTA's capital budget. The contract likely will be approved at the CTA board's monthly meeting Monday.

"This is more than just artwork. It is truly a long-term investment in the South Side, Red Line and communities surrounding the station because we’re creating a program that generates community engagement, creates jobs and offers training to students," CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said in an e-mail to RedEye.

Gates, 39, is currently showcasing his first major solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The sculptor won the Wall Street Journal 2012 Innovator Award. He was an arts planner for the CTA from 2000 to 2003, Chase said.

Gates did not return a call for comment.

The 95th Street station is currently closed as the CTA replaces track south of Roosevelt Road in a five-month, $425 million project. The agency expects to begin work next year on the 95th Street station, which sees about 20,000 commuters daily. Construction is expected to last into 2016.

Meanwhile, the CTA is also seeking artwork for the eight other South Side Red Line stations closed for track overhaul. Bids for those artists are due July 18.

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