Public Art Projects: Lisbon, Texas: 150 Years

Below is pictured a 1995 finalist maquette for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority's public art project at the Veteran's Administration Hospital light-rail station in the Lisbon neighborhood of Dallas, Texas.

The poem I wrote was to be engraved in the light-rail station platform's paving stones, and set within a 72"-diameter brass ring symbolizing the artesian well around which the neighborhood grew in the 1840's. A ripples-on-water effect was sought by juxtaposing two different typefaces: one light and thin, the other heavy and dense. When seen next to each other, the large non-geometeric areas of these two typefaces can be read as waves cutting diagonally across the horizontal bars of text and paving stones.


Lisbon, Texas, 150 Years After 150 Years Ago

Stoop and touch these words that ripple, each an image moving on the surface of water you are here to draw, patterns weaving a picture of our past: the tall grass and those who first turned it, black waxy farms planted
with corn and wheat and Peters Colony settlers. They wore their lives in buckskin and moccasins, hunted buffalo, bear, deer, spun yarn while dance and song brought pleasure come evening and the light of beeswax.

Imagine your cabin here then, 1846, the year Dallas County begins. You begin this neighborhood, draw those who come to sing, to clap, to hear the passing horseback ministers. You dig this well, line it with stone and lay a town's foundation. And this is the magnet, this source of water, of life even, come summers when Five Mile Creek runs dry.

But today you are each a well, a source that nourishes this place named Lisbon. Melons once floated here in some cool baptism, and now you launch their seed, send out ripples to those on a farther edge of time, draw circles into a common chain, a lifeline cast with words and rooted in this pier, this very floor of brick on which our future waits.

Jack Balas, 1995

Back to Public Art Projects