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Our Long BART Macrame Nightmare Is Over

Scott Lucas | June 10, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

Do you feel happier today? Lighter on your feet? Quicker to laugh? Do you feel like dancing?

Well, if you do, there's a simple reason. That grimy rope sculpture that's been hanging in the Embarcadero BART station since 1976 is finally coming down. We haven't been this happy about news from the world of public art since we found out the Bay Lights were going to stay on the bridge indefinitely.

We love us some public art, but this one was a big swing and a miss.

Are we being unfair to the artwork? We don't think so. Called Legs, the piece of macrame has been hanging from an interior wall at the Embarcadero BART station since 1976. Originally orange and white colored, it quickly sucked up dirt—particularly that produced by the trains' breaks—turning the color of our sooty nightmares.

Back in 1987, a member of the BART board of directors called it a "hanging dish towel" and called for its removal. Barbara Shawcroft, the artist—who is a professor at UC Davis—fought back, and BART tried three times to clean it. We can't fault her for championing her art work, which draws on Neolithic techniques known as "knotless netting."

Look, we're not saying the 50 foot tall, 7,000 pound rope sculpture isn't cool, in its ways, but it clearly never found the right home or audience.

Under the settlement, BART will spend $300,000 to remove it, wrap it in plastic, and return it to the artist. She's announced that she will be repurposing it into smaller pieces. (We'd hate to be her grandkids come this Christmas.)

Now if we could just get them to do something about sprucing up Alcatraz.

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