Artworks, Stations

Heaven to Earth

Roberto Gil de Montes, "Heaven to Earth"

Project Description

Located above the escalator at the Hope Street entrance to the Metro Center Station, Heaven to Earth is a ceramic tile triptych with strong allegorical content. The triptych imagery corresponds to the passenger’s gradual descent underground.

The top panel depicts weightless space where time travels as light. In the center, a rose represents the spirit of time, a vine of morning glory wrapped around a cane stands for wisdom, and an empty sand clock becomes a timer without time.

In the middle panel bird silhouettes spin in perpetual motion against a sunset. Souvenirs from downtown Los Angeles tourist spots (including Olvera Street and Chinatown) dance along the frame and are a symbol of the city’s changing cultures.

Surrounded by a morning glory vine, the bottom panel places the passenger in a peaceful lush garden—providing them with a serene moment before entering the station.

Artist Statement

“My idea for this project derived from my experiences living in and visiting cities with subway systems such as Mexico City and my observations of Los Angeles, a city of many cultures. The first panel represents time and space, the second panel is an explosion of spirit—the motion of cultures. The third panel, an image of a garden, places the viewer in the earth’s womb.”

About the Artist

ROBERTO GIL DE MONTES was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to Los Angeles as a teenager. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Masters of Fine Arts from Otis Art Institute, and is currently a professor of art at UCLA. Among many other solo and group exhibitions, Gil de Montes was included in the prestigious Hispanic Art in the US: Thirty Contemporary Painters and Sculptors which toured the country in the late 1980s. Many themes are found in Gil de Montes’ work—his Mexican origins, his life in Echo Park, Mexican popular art, the tradition of retablos and ex-voto paintings, and the unexpected.