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Culture » Art Watch

Unexpected Places to Find Art

Trains: Traveling street art exhibits

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Trains: You may see them as ruthless interrupters of traffic flow. You may curse them as they wake you in the middle of the night with their long horn blasts. Me, though, I love them.

This is just one of the many pieces of traveling art passing through Central Oregon each day. - JASON LOVEJOY
  • Jason Lovejoy
  • This is just one of the many pieces of traveling art passing through Central Oregon each day.

For me, trains are a reminder that there are places outside our little bubble. They don't remind me of this because they're carrying freight from one place to the next, however. Rather, I see them as a parade of galleries, displaying the artwork of renegade artists from all over this large country. For many artists, trains are a canvas—a place they can create a work of art under the cover of darkness, only for it to be rolled out in the daylight for many people to see. These works of art are sometimes memorials to other artists, past or incarcerated. They're sometimes political. Often, they're simply the drawings and musings of young artists who feel they don't have another avenue for being heard. It's one way that trains continue to connect us to each other.

"I love the idea of trains as mobile art galleries, from other cities, with art that you don't have to pay to see—and as a voice for minorities and marginalized people," shares Jason Lovejoy, a local artist whose work is currently on display outside of Cosmic Depot as part of the High Desert Mural Festival.

To be clear, painting trains or even walking around the train yard to look at paintings on trains is illegal, so I don't suggest it. But we're incredibly lucky to have a clear line of sight to these works of art parading through town on a daily basis. And for those of you who think of it as nothing more than someone destroying property or making things unclean or unsightly, I ask you this: Don't trains do that already on their own? Next time you're stuck at a train crossing, rather than cursing the train in front of you, shift what you're seeing. Look at the art. What do you see now?

About The Author

Teafly Peterson

For the last 20 years, I have been working as an artist and an educator. Some days I am better at one than the other. The good days are when I am excellent at both simultaneously. I love those days. I teach a variety of mediums– painting, drawing, photography, writing, film making. Mostly what I teach is how to...

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