When the East Rail Line opens in 2016, a unique commuter will be seen running to catch the train at Central Park Blvd. (CPB) Station. A sculpture titled Balloon Man Running by Colorado artist Sean O’Meallie will be placed at the southwest corner of the Smith Road entrance to the Park-n-Ride, across from the commuter rail station. “The Balloon Man is ‘any man,’ meaning any human. Most of us today, young and old, and of different backgrounds, can relate to a balloon figure. This guy is running to or from something. He’s pretty inflated and busy with it,” says O’Meallie, who was selected from hundreds of applicants to design, fabricate and install the artwork.
The 12-foot-high sculpture will be poised atop a 20-foot pillar and oriented toward the station, as if running to catch the train. The sculpture has a luminous paint surface that shimmers under natural and artificial light. It will be lit using LED lights, and during programmed intervals, a series of soft colors will be cast, making it appear blue at one moment, green the next, and so on. “Although the Balloon Man is sparkly white during the day, the color changes at night will add nicely to the skyline of the area and be a source of amusement,” O’Meallie says.
“As I approached the project, I noticed that RTD has a pretty great variety of nice sculptures identifying the many stations,” O’Meallie says. “I’m delighted to win this commission, and I think Balloon Man Running will help distinguish the Central Park Station while adding to the emotional uplift of RTD’s public art program.”
Sandra Fettingis, another local artist, has been commissioned to install artwork on the windscreens at all the East Line rail stations. At the bus bays, architects have included native flora and fauna images on the windscreens and an analemmatic sundial (a sundial with hour markers in an elliptical pattern) is planned for the park-n-Ride, providing Central Park station with more artwork than any other station in the RTD system.
Balloon Man Running is one of 15 art commissions selected over the past few months for the Regional Transportation District’s EAGLE commuter rail project that includes the East Line to DIA, the Gold Line to Arvada and Wheat Ridge and the Northwest Line to Westminster. The art commissions were funded through RTD’s Art-n-Transit program and are all expected to be installed prior to each rail line’s opening.
Brenda Tierney is the RTD FasTracks public information manager.