Artworks, Stations

Geologica 42

Michael C. McMillen, "Geologica 42" (detail)

Project Description

A 40-foot spire of telescoping steel and bronze ascends into the sky and announces the entry to this station. Capped at its pinnacle with a gleaming gold baseball, the tower is comprised of kinetic elements including an anemometer for measuring wind force, and a weather vane depicting a miniature Bell X-1 rocket plane balanced by a Cadillac tail fin. The Bell X-1 rocket, piloted by Chuck Yeager, was the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in 1947. These elements make apt reference to the California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Art Center College of Design, all located in the Pasadena area.

A bronze collar clads the bottom 10-feet of the tower, and contains a wealth of interesting and engaging designs, textures, and artifacts relating to both geological time and the history of Pasadena. Complex sculptural images including book spines, hot metal letterpress type, doorbells, locks, metal cars and train tracks, keys, pencils and paintbrushes, miniature doors, and miscellaneous small hardware fittings represent a conceptual stratum of history, knowledge, and subtext, and pay tribute as well to the fields of art and science. Prominently appearing on the tower collar is the number 42, which commuters and sports fans alike will recognize in conjunction with the gold baseball as references to Jackie Robinson, a long-time Pasadena resident and the first African American to break the “color line” in professional baseball.

Five bronze steamer trunks with realistic details and varying patinas serve as station seating, and honor the historic role of rail travel in Pasadena. Be sure to take note of the markings on the trunk—you might find that Harry Houdini was destined for the famous Hotel Green in Pasadena.

Artist Statement

“The tower serves to identify the entrance to the station platform and provides an animated and engaging visual interpretation of time and culture, combining artifacts and symbols both natural and manufactured, interlinked and mutually dependent. The tower can be interpreted as a meditation on the evolving nature of geology, time, language, habitat, and culture.”

About the Artist

MICHAEL C. McMILLEN holds a Master of Fine Arts from UCLA. He has received numerous grants and awards, including the 1978 Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Young Talent Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. His artwork is in many public and private collections, including: the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Oakland Museum, Oakland; Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach; and San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and at museums and galleries throughout the US, Asia, and Europe.