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The Return of Spring/The Onset of Winter

Times Sq-42 St (1/2/3/7/N/Q/R/W/S)

The Return of Spring/The Onset of Winter

Jack Beal
Artwork in glass mosaic by Jack Beal showing an active scene of figures gathered by the subway entrance.
“The Return of Spring/The Onset of Winter” (2005) by Jack Beal at Times Sq-42 St. Photo: Jeffrey Sturges

About the project

Jack Beal uses classical mythology to comment on the relationship between what is above and below the surface — an apt metaphor for the subway. The work consists of two large mosaic panels that illustrate the mythological character Persephone. Instead of fasting, she ate a pomegranate; as punishment, she was banished underground for six months of the year. However, she is permitted to spend six months above ground on earth with her mother. In mythology, the periods above and below ground were the beginning of seasons, which Beal uses in his titles. Beal finds universality in the myth and brings it to life in a place filled with movement and purpose, bringing beauty underground. 

About the artist

Jack Beal (1931-2013) was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He briefly attended the College of William and Mary, studying biology, but dropped out after two years. A decision to take evening art classes lead to his attending the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1956 Beal moved to New York with the aim of finding success as a painter, eventually becoming one of the first artists to settle in Soho. In 1974, the United States General Services Administration commissioned Beal to produce a series of murals for the U.S. Department of Labor headquarters in Washington D.C. Beal was a founder of the Artist’s Choice Museum, New York and the New York Academy of Art, as well as the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including honorary degrees from the Art Institute of Boston and the Hollins College. His work has been shown extensively throughout the states, including multiple retrospective exhibitions. Beal’s work is part of the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The National Gallery in Washington, DC, and The Art Institute of Chicago, among others.