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Free art crawl a tour of subway exhibits

Ruddy Harootian in front of a mosaic by

Ruddy Harootian in front of a mosaic by the artist, Jack Beal, at the Times Square subway station. ( March 18, 2012) Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Skip the Met -- a free art exhibition can be viewed via a subway ride.

Ruddy Harootian, 28, a Fort Greene resident who creates customized private tours for a travel agency, will lead an art crawl of the city's subway system Saturday to see some of his favorite pieces that adorn stations in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

"When you take the train, you always pass by these things," Harootian said as he gave amNewYork a sneak peek of his tour. "They don't stand out anymore, plus you're so focused on not being late and getting where you're going."

Harootian, who also blogs about subway artists, will start his free tour at noon on the south mezzanine of the DeKalb Avenue station. He said he may add more tour dates if there was enough interest.

Among the places the tour will visit:

DeKalb Avenue (B/Q/R), DeKalb Improvisation, 2005, Stephen Johnson, glass mosaic on mezzanine walls.

Harootian called the mosaic, which covers a long wall on the south mezzanine, "a Brooklyn scrapbook paying homage to the city."

"It looks like a rip," he said. "You see a face here, a face there."

On the Q or B train into Manhattan from DeKalb Avenue (out the right window), Masstransiscope, 1980, Bill Brand, 228 hand-painted panels at the abandoned Myrtle Avenue station.

When the train is moving full speed, the piece "looks like a flip book, like a cartoon," Harootian said, as the shapes outside the window perform a curious ballet before turning into a rocket ship taking off.

"It's really quick," he said. "If you blink, you'll miss it."

23rd Street (N/R), Memories of Twenty-Third Street, 2002, Keith Godard, glass mosaic on platform walls.

Along the walls of the station are dozens of hats memorializing the celebrities who may have passed nearby. Names printed beneath the colorful chapeaux include Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry Houdini, whose hat hangs upside-down.

"You can see who the person was just by their hat. My favorite part is, you get to pose with them," Harootian said, ducking under a top hat.

Times Square-42nd Street (A/C/E/N/R/Q/S/1/2/3/7), Times Square Times: 35 Times, 2005, Toby Buonagurio, ceramic plaques set into a glass-block passageway.

"You can spend a whole day in the Times Square station," which has several artists' work on display, Harootian said.

Buonagurio's exhibition includes 35 enclosed cases with scenes showing fashion, performers and New Year's Eve revelers.

The first case has a hand holding out a subway token.

"I don't even know if kids now know there used to be tokens to get in the subway," he said with a laugh.

For those who can't make Harootian's art crawl, the MTA has launched a new app this month that has pictures of more than 200 works throughout the system, along with video and audio clips.

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