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Jan 25

The Bus Stops Here

Posted on January 25, 2022 at 12:59 PM by Ceci Vasconcellos

There is a very cool art piece in the City’s public art collection that doubles as a bus shelter on University Avenue (at Main Street) near Whataburger restaurant. I call it the Minecraft shelter.

My son has spent hours of his life playing Minecraft, a popular video game where players build blocky, 3D worlds, and he is not alone. Gamers of all ages love Minecraft and would love this bus shelter that easily fits the game’s aesthetic. Created in 2006, years before the game was released, this design was way before its time. 

The art shelter is sculpted with geometric shapes whose curves and angles balance to form a bench seat, backing and shade. Matching components house the trash receptacle. Its faded paint looks like it might have once been a bright silver with vibrant turquoise and coral red accents but it’s hard to tell; maybe it was meant to look subtle.    

My attention was drawn to the shelter when I saw a photo of it in our virtual City Art Tour. The many times I have driven by that corner, I had never noticed it. Curious to see what it looked like in person, I took a drive out to see it. I was not disappointed. While the functional art piece could use some refreshing, the design is strong and ageless. And it is still in use on RoadRunner Transit Route 4. I immediately decided we were going to restore this interactive sculpture to its former glory with a little cleaning and fresh paint. I think the artist would appreciate that. 

I wish I knew where the artist is now. From my research, I believe his name is Santos Contreras, who was a graduate student at New Mexico State University in 2006. Mr. Contreras won an Artstop competition that year which resulted in the art shelter installation. I’ve tried contacting him through his last known whereabouts, but the trail has gone cold. It would be nice to ask him about the inspiration behind the design and maybe discover the true name of this very, very cool art shelter. Until then, it will remain unofficially the Minecraft shelter. Santos, if you see this, call me!

                                                       Maquette of artistic shelter made of cardboard and tapeModel of Artistic Shelter  


Artistic bus shelter with Whataburger in background located on University Ave.Installed Artistic Shelter

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