Here’s the ‘artful’ way Sacramento is covering bad paint jobs on light rail trains

Sacramento Regional Transit has found an artful way of covering the peeling paint on some of its older light rail trains: two are now rolling public art pieces.

Rather than redo bad paint jobs, the agency hired local artists Ruby Chacon and Kerri Warner to design full-body artwork to adorn the trains, front to back, top to bottom. The art is on vinyl wraps that essentially are pasted like wallpaper onto the trains.

The cost of $5,000 per train is less expensive than stripping and repainting the vehicles, but it’s hardly about money, said City Councilman and SacRT board member Steve Hansen.

“Why not capture the community’s attention and inspire them? Move them, not just physically, but emotionally?” he said. “It’s not just bureaucracy. There’s a spirit to what we do.”

Chacon’s work depicts several Sacramentans she admires, each of them expressing motion. She calls her work “Movimiento.” It includes butterflies flitting among the human figures.

Chacon was standing near the light rail line this week and, to her shock and pleasure, saw her artwork roll by.

“I felt overjoyed because I get to share it with more people,” she said. “The whole purpose of my art is to create spaces where people can feel themselves reflected.”

Warner’s work is playful. It depicts dogs of different breeds, most of them staring questioningly up at stars in a swirling night sky, a reference to “The Starry Night” painting by Vincent Van Gogh.

“It was exciting to do the train because of the scale of it and the visibility,” Warner said. “I though it would be fun and whimsical, something that everyone could relate to. The take on ‘Starry Night’ is that we are all in this together.”

SacRT has commissioned two more light rail art pieces that will be finished in the next few weeks, officials said. The project was done in cooperation with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak