Public Art at BART Silicon Valley Phase I Stations


Public art serves to enhance civic spaces, providing humanity, history, and culture to the surrounding environment. The artists commissioned to create pieces for VTA’s BART Berryessa Extension have experience creating installations for various public spaces, both in the United States and abroad.

Milpitas Transit Center:

Ethos of Imagination – BJ Katz & Chris Klein

The façade at Milpitas BART Station uses tempered laminated kiln-fired glass in a variety of colors to celebrate the ethnic, cultural and environmental diversity of Milpitas whilst being informed by the concepts of imagination and harmony. The work draws upon the character of the city of Milpitas, the conceptual imagination behind its economy, and the rugged beauty of the nearby foothills.

From the creators: “Recreational access to undisturbed nature makes it possible for the individual to reconnect with their inner serenity, peacefulness and harmony. The inner stroke of stillness offers a balance to the outer stroke of hectic modern life.”

A complex layering of art glass techniques was used in combining textures and colors, with changes in ambient light levels creating an ever-changing work of art. The textural element creates a work of art that can be seen and appreciated regardless of front or back lighting (depending on time of day or night) and perspective of the viewer to the artwork.

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Exterior shot of Milpitas BART glasswork
 Meltdown Glass 2017

Ecstatic Voyaging – Amy Trachtenberg

Featuring thousands of slender, handmade ceramic tiles, Ecstatic Voyaging makes art of the station’s 20 broad structural pillars. Drawing inspiration from the diversity of the Bay Area community and the 29 different language groups spoken within it, the artist used a detail from an Ikat weaving pattern.

Said Trachtenberg: “The word Ikat translates to ‘to tie or to bind’ and serves as a metaphor for bringing together community via an ancient and revered textile pattern practiced on most continents.”

Embedded in the screening and glazing of the tiles are patches of integrated circuitry evoking the technological history of chip making in the Silicon Valley location of the Milpitas Station. The integrated circuitry patterns anticipate the occasional tile damage in the long life of a transit station. Over time, replacement tiles will include the secondary pattern that originated in the 20th century in the birthplace of high tech.

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Close shot of one of the structural pillars at Milpitas BART Station
©Amy Trachtenberg 2020


Berryessa/North San José Station

LIFE! - Larry Kirkland

The neighboring San Jose Flea Market served as inspiration for LIFE!, a cast bronze sculpture. The artist also drew inspiration from his own life, reflecting on the items he has collected over the course of his life. Items for the cast wheel, which includes everything from kitchen utensils to musical instruments, were gathered from the Flea Market over several months and placed on a foam shape before being cast and welded together.

Said Kirkland: “These are all things that make up an individual life. The piece suggests each and every person’s life journey. The uphill slope is what life often is, never known what lies ahead.”

The sculpture is 15’ tall by 12’ by 5’ deep, including the granite base.

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Image taken of brass wheel outside Berryessa Station
©Craig Collins 2019