Creativity in the Bayou City

Admire the Houston-themed Papel Picado at This East End Light-Rail Station

Part of the city's Art in Transit program, the Cesar Chavez/67th Street Station is an homage to the neighborhood’s Hispanic roots.

By Emma Schkloven February 10, 2021 Published in the December 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Image: Amy Kinkead

When Harris County’s Metropolitan Transit Authority launched its Art in Transit program back in 2006, the aim was not only to build the Bayou City’s light rail system, but also to make the 20 station platforms distinctive and unforgettable. Each station would be decorated with eye-catching works of art that reflect the city’s diverse neighborhoods.

One especially colorful creation is Cesar Chavez/67th Street Station by Arizona-based artist Mary Lucking. In a nod to the neighborhood’s Hispanic roots, the East End Green Line platform has glass screens and fencing panels designed to mimic “papel picado,” a Mexican folk-art tradition in which intricate patterns are cut into tissue paper to form banners. But instead of featuring the classic images that often appear in the craft, Lucking’s motif highlights 12 locales connected specifically to East End history, including the Houston Ship Channel, the former Maxwell House coffee plant, and Our Lady of Guadalupe, the first Mexican American church in Houston. Blooming magnolia trees also serve as a recurring theme in various parts of the design in an homage to the ones that lined the esplanades from Harrisburg Boulevard to Downtown back in the day.

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