Airport Art When You Are on the Run

Lately, I’ve been up in the air. A lot. Dallas. Denver. Houston. Change flights in Chicago (note to self: never do that again. Ever.)

Photo: Joel Kramer

Photo: Joel Kramer

There is amazing art in many airports. And then there is just weird art in some airports. Phoenix has a suspended bi-plane that looks like it might be crashing in Terminal 3. The plane is a SPAD XIII, one of the most successful fighting planes of World War I.

Above it is a stained glass window designed by Ken Toney. I thought it was related to Frank Lloyd Wright (whose winter home was in the area), but no. The colors reminded Toney of the Southwest.

Dallas-Fort Worth airport (which is a nightmare of navigation problems) has an ice castle in it. Well, it’s a sculpture of an ice mountain castle.

1917pwqgkq5upjpgI’m not sure, but I think Dallas has no mountains. Still, it’s fun to walk by it–or in my case, run by it.

Atlanta has a sculpture of a flying ear of corn. I haven’t been in Atlanta lately, so I borrowed this from the Gizmodo site. It’s too good not to share.

19190mkf0d9qajpgThe sculpture, part of the vegetable series by Craig Nutt, includes an air traffic control tower that’s a carrot. Sometimes an ear of corn is just an ear of corn.

Travel between the B and C Concourses at Chicago and you will be in a light show.  Luckily, you can hang onto the rail of the moving sidewalk while you gawk.

1917tw7zkp9lqjpg“Sky’s the Limit” has more than 450 neon tubes and there’s music playing. It’s overwhelming, but so is the Chicago airport.

Denver airport has a huge blue sculpture of a mustang in front. Not to put too

Photo: Len Borden

Photo: Len Borden

fine a point on it, but it is anatomically correct. Which I almost didn’t notice because the beast has glowing red eyes, too. Dubbed “Blucifer” by the locals, there are many dramatic photos of the beast. One of the best is here, complete with dramatic weather in the background.

A lot of scary stories surround “Blue Mustang”, too. The sculptor, Louis Jimenez, was killed when a section of the sculpture fell on him, severing an artery.

When I travel, I love to see the local art, especially if it’s in the airport. I don’t know how the art is selected, but you know that people argue over how to represent their city. Sometimes art wins. Sometimes the committee does.

And then, I’m happy to come home to some simply gorgeous gifts of nature. The clouds on the evening I came home:

Photo: Quinn McDonald

Photo: Quinn McDonald

And a cactus in bloom–more so this year than any I can remember in the last few years.


Quinn McDonald travels a lot. She is glad to see the world and always happy to come back home to the desert.

10 thoughts on “Airport Art When You Are on the Run

  1. The public area at Wellington has had Lord of the Ring themed sculptures for a while now. First there was Gollum catching a salmon and then two giant eagles with Gandalf on one of them. They’re amazing but nothing can beat the natural beauty of the environment.

  2. Back before 9-11 you could just stop by the airport and check out the current art. Now you need a ticket to see anything beyond the checkin area and usually when I have a ticket I am frantically trying to get to the correct (often recently changed) gate. I live in Atlanta and I had no idea there was a flying ear of corn here. 😉 Thanks for filling me in.

  3. The only time I was through Chicago – traveling from Winnipeg (home) to Austin (for an art workshop) I wasn’t walking very well as I waiting for a hip replacement, so I was taken from one gate to another on a golf cart. Good thing, too, as I would have never found the gate on my own.

    • Chicago is for the physically agile and the mentally alert. I’m not super fond of Philadelphia’s maze of an airport, either, but Minneapolis has a great restaurant and store selection.

  4. A friend of mine who used to travel extensively has quite a collection of photos of hotel carpets – each pattern a bit more dizzying than the next 😀 I enjoyed the pics but shared your sense of relief at getting home to simple beauty!

    • Your friend and I have something in common. I have a big collection of photos of hotel carpets, bed coverings and wall papers! I love them for their graphic design and, I’m sure, their ability to hide dirt!

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