A sculpture that keeps you dry while waiting for the bus

Not all pieces of public artwork, it turns out, are built just so my children can climb all over them (oh, the poor, aching shoulders of The Maine Lobsterman).

On Friday during Portland First Friday Art Walk, Portland Public Art Committee member Lin Lisberger is slated to give a talk about the bus stop on the outskirts of Monument Square. Because just like the “Our Lady of Victories” statue that gives the square its monumentness, the bus shelter is a sculpture.

Neat, huh?

Anyway, this is the second in a series of presentations about pieces in Portland’s 29-piece public art collection. It starts at 5:30 p.m. at the shelter itself, which I’d include a picture of if only this computer would start cooperating. Here’s a bit more on the Jewel Box Bus Stop as clipped from a City Hall announcement:

Designed by Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan, the Jewel Box Bus Shelter was installed in Monument Square late 2004 to create focus and embody the energy along Congress Street. Representing Portland’s vibrant present and future, the bus shelter acts as a counterpoint to the traditional architecture in the square. The functional art piece is one of a handful within the city, which also serve practical purposes allowing the viewer to directly experience and be a part of the art work.

The surfaces of the shelter are faceted like a jewel, with the walls bending slightly every three feet giving the panes of glass a variety of reflective angles to pick up light.  The shelter’s other faceted surfaces are abstracted from features of Maine’s marine environment. The form of the canopy, made of overlapping panels of golden anodized aluminum, is derived from a lobster shell. The lower cast iron walls are patterned into pyramids evoking barnacles. The south wall comprised of individual panes of angled glass resembles the waves of the ocean. The construct of the shelter utilizes both blue glass and a holographic film designed to capture both sunlight and electric light bringing to mind light scintillating across the surface of Casco Bay. The durable materials for the shelter were chosen for the naturalness of their color tones. A granite line radiates from Our Lady of Victories, the center of Monument Square, across Center Street to the bus shelter’s bench, ending in the south end of the shelter. This line uses the vocabulary of traditional materials to thread the history of the square to the new contemporary shelter, acting as a connection from the past to the present. The Jewel Box Bus Shelter replaced a blighted shelter and phone kiosk and was part of a larger renaissance in downtown Portland that continues to today with the renovations to the Maine Historical Society and the Portland Public Library and new storefronts along Congress Street.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.