Airport art

Airport Amenity of the Week: PHL flight pins

The Airport Amenity of the Week is Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) celebration of summer flights marked by a collection of artist-made pins.

We spotted them in a tweet a while back and admired them.

And PHL was kind enough to send a batch to Stuck at the Airport’s headquarters.

The package was larger than we thought. And we were pleased to see that not only are the pins larger than we thought – 2 inches across – but that there’s also a bright poster also celebrating the return of many European flights this summer between Amsterdam, Madrid, Athens, Rome, Dublin, Venice, and many other destinations.

It’s a great way to draw attention to the return of flights. A great new airport collectible. And a great way to support local artists and promote the airport.

So, we’ll declare this art, and the idea, the Airport Amenity of the Week.

Spot a cool new airport event, effort, or amenity? Nominate it for Airport Amenity of the Week by leaving a comment below.

What I learned about Dallas Love Field Airport

The team that produces “Love Field Stories,” the official podcast of Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL), was kind enough to include me as a guest for two upcoming episodes.

The two-parter delves into the unique history of the airport and highlights some of the wonderful art that can be spotted in and around the terminal.

The episodes will be live-streamed on Tuesday, April 12, and on May 10 at 12:30 p.m. (Central) on Love Field’s Facebook and YouTube and will include images of many of the historical events and artwork we discuss.

The podcast can also be heard on Apple Podcast, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora.

To produce the podcast, DAL teamed me up with Bruce Bleakley, who is an aviation historian and co-author of The Love Evolution: A Centennial Celebration of Love Field Airport and Its Art.

We called it a conversation. But really, it’s me getting to pick the brain of the airport’s historian. I asked Bleakley about how, in 1958, Dallas Love Field’s new terminal building came to have the first moving walkway at any airport in the world. And why there was an ice-skating rink in the terminal. And about the role that Dallas Love Filed played on that day in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president on the DAL tarmac.

In this two-part podcast, we also learn the stories behind some of the great art that passengers walk over and walk by at DAL.

And I get Bleakley to tell us which city’s name is spelled wrong in the airport’s first commissioned piece of art. A detail he didn’t even share in his book.

I hope you’ll tune in!

Courtesy Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas

Fresh art at Miami International Airport

(Kristi Bettendorf, Lignum vitae, Guaiacum sanctum, and Honeybee, Apis mellifera, Courtesy of the artist.)

Pollinators art exhibition at MIA celebrates South Florida plants

Pollinators, the newest art exhibition at Miami International Airport, features watercolor and mixed media works that give a close-up view of plants from South Florida and their animal and insect pollinators.

Focusing on these complex natural relationships, members of the Tropical Botanic Artists Collective illustrated birds, butterflies, moths, bees, wasps – even aquatic zooplankton – with the plants they pollinate. The artists in Pollinators worked in collaboration with Biscayne National Park in Florida.

(Donna Torres, Wild Cotton, Gossypium hirsutum, and Western or European Honeybee, Apis mellifera, 2018, Courtesy of the artist.)

Find the Pollinators exhibition on Concourse E pre-security area on the arrivals level near Door 11.

Spring has sprung – in art – at PHX Airport

The newest exhibition at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) offers an artistic look at the wide variety of plant and animal life in Arizona and the Sonoran Desert with work by 21 artists.

The diverse selection of artworks, all from the Phoenix Airport Museum’s own collection, includes a realistic bronze tortoise family, an embroidered and appliqued art chair with butterflies and flowers, and large vibrant paintings of cactus blooms – to name a few.

Persistent Plants and Desert Dwellers is in Phoenix Sky Harbor’s Terminal 3, on level 4, and is an inviting and colorful respite, especially for travelers from colder climates who will appreciate the sunshiny images.

Travelers can visit the exhibition in the post-security gallery while airport visitors without a flight ticket can see a sampling of works near the PHX Sky Train® portal through August 2022.

Memphis Airport apologizes to artist

In mid-February, Memphis artist Tommy Kha shared an Instagram post celebrating the fact that one of his pieces was included among the artwork installed at Memphis International Airport as part of the newly reopened Concourse B.

“Termin[inal]s of Endearment,” the Asian American artist and Elvis fan wrote, “still kinda stunned to be part of this collection…”

The artwork, a self-portrait depicting the artist dressed as Memphis icon Elvis Presley, was one of 61 new art pieces Memphis pubic art non-profit UrbanArt Commission helped choose for the new terminal.

But at the beginning of this week, Kha was back on social media. This time sharing a photo of the empty wall at the airport where the artwork had been.

“Apologies to those who wished to see this piece: it is no longer on display,” he wrote. “After some disturbing complaints about my work, it was decided, and without my knowledge, the pictures were removed.”

Why was it removed?

In a statement shared with local media, airport president and CEO Scott Brockman said that after receiving “a lot of negative feedback” from Elvis fans, and a “small number” of complaints that referred to Kha’s race (and which MEM officials said were “completely inappropriate,”) the airport had decided to temporarily remove the piece.

“When the airport created its art program, our goal was to purchase and display artwork that did not include public figures or celebrities,” Brockman said in his statement. “Our selection committee made an exception in the case of Tommy Kha’s piece and recommended its purchase.”

As you may imagine, the decision to remove the piece didn’t sit well with art fans and many members of the community. Nor with the Urban Art Commission, which said on social media that it had worked with the airport authority and selection committee to curate “an art program that speaks to a diverse and authentic creative community representative of Memphis.”

“We are opposed to Tommy Kha’s installation being removed from display, especially considering the openly racist comments made online in the development of this situation,” the group added.

Good news: the airport authority listened and will reinstall Kha’s work

Constellations VIII by Tommy Kha

In a “doing the right thing” move, the airport has quickly decided to apologize to the artist and reintall the artwork.

Here’s the statement – and apology – from Memphis airport authority President and CEO Scott Brockman:

Over the past 24 hours, we have heard from many in our community regarding the temporary removal of Tommy Kha’s artwork in the new concourse. The Airport Authority appreciates the support that the community has shown for Tommy and we have made the decision to reinstall the artwork. We apologize to Tommy for the effect that this ordeal has had on him.

As stated yesterday, when the airport created its art program, our goal was to purchase and display artwork that did not include public figures or celebrities but made an exception in this case.

The Airport Authority will continue to emphasize local artists, diversity, and inclusion with this art program, and we will explore additional best practices to address how we handle complaints and public feedback about our artwork.

Right move.

Pitchfork has more on this story, along with some comments from Kha.