All Aboard for Art

When significant developments take place in New York City I try staying current but  knew nothing about Grand Central Madison (GCM), the terminal below Grand Central proper that connects the East Side to the Long Island Railroad. Looks like The Municipal Transit Authority dropped the PR ball because the other senior auditors —also au courant New Yorkers—in my Art in New York Class at John Jay College didn’t know about this space either.  GCM opened in late January, 2023; it’s a wonderful (and useful) space that includes the longest escalator in New York,

For long escalator fans

stunning tiles in blue, purple, light green and cyan and knock-out public art.

Among the permanent displays are huge glass mosaics by Yayoi Kusama and Kiki Smith that are both stunning and more or less impervious to damage as they can easily be wiped clean. Kusama’s work, the 120-foot long A Message of Love Directly from My Heart unto the Universe, features heads, suns, amoeba-like shapes and her signature polka dots. It’s full of color and life.

Part of Kusama mosaic

Smith’s abstract River Light is composed of blue and white irregularly-shaped tiles that reference sunshine glinting on the East River. Four smaller Smith works nod to Long Island with depictions of wild turkeys, a deer standing among golden reeds, Long Island Sound and an abstracted wave pulling back from a rocky beach.

Kiki Smith with deer mosaic


The permanent installations incorporate a three-part work by Nick Cave, Each One, Every One, Equal All, a mosaic version of his Soundsuit sculptures, which camouflage the wearer’s shape hiding gender, race, and class and make noise when the wearer moves. These practically dance off the walls.

There are also changing exhibits including digital artwork such as a video of people watching and reacting to being ‘watched’ and another of a playful man and his hat. Down the center one corridor is a panel of photographs by Paul Pfeiffer showing a street performer known as Da Gold Man who has appeared for years as a living statue in Times Square. On one side panels show Gold Man in various poses; on the other are his clothes which could easily pass as advertising for jeans and tee shirts (especially if you favor clothing dipped in gold.)

Da Gold Man photo



Lauren Kaplan discussing a mosaic at GCM





The class tour was led by delightful, knowledgeable Lauren A. Kaplan who teaches at Hunter and John Jay; has run adult programs at MOMA; school programs at the Guggenheim and offers private and small group tours in museums and galleries throughout New York. (For more information: :


And what could be more appropriate than:

Melon Mosaic Salad— courtesy How Sweet Eats by Jessica

(This amount serves 4-6—increase ingredients to serve more people.)

2 cups watermelon cubes

2 cups cantaloupe cubes

1 to 2 seedless cucumbers, peeled and cut into cubes

1 to 2 avocados, chopped

1 8 ounce block feta, cut into cubes

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons fresh herbs, like mint, basil and chives (if you like)

Cut up or buy pre-cut ingredients trying to make them all roughly the same size. Plate pieces like a mosaic, drizzle with a good vinaigrette (Jessica uses a ‘hot’ honey dressing I thought too complicated), sprinkle with salt and pepper. (If you opt to make this ahead toss it all into a baggie and let it marinate with the dressing—don’t add avocado until ready to serve.)

Serve humming Chattanooga Choo-Choo or I’ve Been Working on the Railroad—up the GCM theme by adding Long Island Iced Tea.




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