Poetry Projects, Artworks

Metro Art Bookmarks, 1996 & 1997

Image of bookmark with text and imagery.

Project Description

In 1996 and 1997, Metro Art initiated and developed bookmark projects in a creative effort to encourage transit customers to use the Metro system to travel to local libraries. Visual artists and poets were invited to form teams and submit collaborative designs of text and imagery for bookmarks to be distributed in “take one” holders on board 2,000 Metro buses, and at public libraries countywide. Coinciding with National Library Week in 1996 and National Poetry Month in 1997, 100,000 printed copies of each bookmark were made available to over one million daily bus riders as well as the public at large.

Over the two-year project period, more than 150 artist/poet teams submitted proposed works. Panels comprised of professional artists, poets, and librarians were brought together to review all submissions, offer critical input, and select ten finalists. Metro’s Graphics Department translated the original works into images for printing. Distribution of the final products was handled by Bus/Rail Divisions and the County Department of Libraries.

This project successfully demonstrated that creative contributions by artists—whether visual or literary—can be accessible to the public at large as a portable, “carry home” work of art. It also provided an innovative approach to engaging transit riders and enhancing the transit experience, and served as a catalyst for increased ridership. The collaborative approach used by the artists and poets produced high-quality pieces in a diversity of styles and mediums. Photographs (contemporary portraits, found photographs, or historic prints), collage imagery, paintings, illustrations, and drawings by the artists, combined with poetry by some of the area’s most talented writers, were fully integrated in these works.

At about a penny a piece, the bookmarks were a cost effective means of communicating to the public and presenting artwork in an atypical and accessible format. The format, a 3″ x 8″ card printed both sides, oftentimes in Spanish and English, was particularly effective as a personal keepsake to be experienced privately by the individual along the journey. The long-term value of this mini-artwork lay in the user’s desire to keep the card, to use it functionally as a marker, and to savor the message inscribed therein for days and months to come.

Metro Art provided the bookmarks as a “gift of art” to transit customers, offering them an inspirational token to view and read.

About the Artist


Butterfly Goddess
Ruth Ann Anderson, Artist
Starr Goode, Poet

The Moon Over LA
Jacqueline Dreager, Artist
Martha Ronk, Poet

Shiho Nakaza, Artist
David Maruyama, Poet

Turn, Burn, Learn
Darryl Mar, Artist
Russell Leong, Poet

The Underworld
Alexis Smith, Artist
Amy Gerstler, Poet

Linda Trujillo, Artist
Dennis Cruz, Poet


J Raul Plasencia, Artist
Leo Padilla, Poet

Patty Sue Jones, Artist
Laura Stockney, Poet

Even a Great French Chef
Hilary Baker, Artist
Adrienne Su, Poet

Susan Silton, Artist
Terry Wolverton, Poet

JoAnne Calis, Artist
Janet Sternburg, Poet

Paula Goldman, Artist
Mark Robin, Poet