The work of a Manhattan-based artist may give commuters at Westbury’s Long Island Rail Road station a brief escape from the daily rush with a combination of painted glass and metal pieces that provide a glimpse into the area's culture and history.
Artist Darryl Westly, 34, designed a piece called "Illuminations" that uses iconic places and figures to capture Westbury’s story.
The MTA commissioned the artwork as part of its $2.5 billion Third Track project, which added a new Long Island Rail Road track that stretches from Floral Park to Hicksville.
MTA officials said Monday that the necessary remodeling of the Westbury train station, which included a new overpass and a renovated ticket office, provided space for the artwork.
An MTA spokesperson couldn't immediately provide the cost of the art installation Tuesday, but said it was budgeted at less than 1% of the total expenses for the station reconstruction.
Westly's images are painted on glass panels in different parts of the station that include the ticket office, an overpass and two rail platform shelters.
The images include depictions of one of the Tuskegee Airmen, the historic Robert Bacon Memorial Children's Library and religious structures in the area.
The artist used flowers across the glass panels to represent the gardens of a historic estate in Old Westbury.
The metalwork, which is embedded in the some of the station's railings, complements the stories told on nearby glass panels.
The images etched in metal include race cars and horses hearkening back to the old Roosevelt Raceway and boats that represent the migration of Quakers to the area.
“It really was important to me to try and ultimately allow for people to experience some of Westbury’s history and also to look at its present,” Westly said in an interview.
Westly, who grew up in Chicago, said his research methods included using books and local historical society resources.
He said he also drew inspiration from the accomplishments of Quaker abolitionist and notable 18th century Westbury resident Elias Hicks. The artist added that his work at the station is best seen with sunlight, which he said reflects the Quaker philosophy of helping people find their inner light, or purpose.
The MTA said Westly's artwork proposal was among dozens submitted for consideration for the Westbury station. He was one of six finalists before the MTA selected him in 2020.
His proposal caught the eye of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro, who said it was evident Westly did “a tremendous amount of research of the community.”
Cavallaro was among local residents and officials who advised an MTA selection panel made up of art professionals and other community representatives.
“Anyone getting off the train would immediately have an introduction to certain things that were significant to the community and those of us who live here would have recognition of some of the things he depicted,” Cavallaro said.
For about two years, Westly worked with Germany-based Glasmalerei Peters Studios to translate his original concept into 782 square feet of painted glass. He also worked with KC Fabrications based in upstate Gardiner to complete the 140 square feet of etched metalwork.
The artwork was installed last fall, but the MTA and the village will introduce Westly and his work to the public Thursday as workers put the final touches on the renovated Westbury station.
Westly said he hopes station visitors can "take part of this community with them each time they visit" and see his creation.
Art by the rails
- The MTA commissioned "Illuminations" as part of the Third Track project
- Manhattan-based artist Darryl Westly created the artwork
- The art portrays iconic places and figures in local history in glass and metal