CATS Corner


Art Pass

By Logan Lover

July 11, 2022



The Federal Transit Administration states: "The visual quality of the nation's mass transit systems has a profound impact on transit patrons and the community at large. Good design and art can improve the appearance and safety of a facility, give vibrancy to its public spaces and make patrons feel welcome."

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) enhances riders' experiences by incorporating artwork throughout the system in a variety of ways. One way is through the annual Transit Pass Design Contest, where CATS asks North and South Carolina residents to submit original artwork and then prints the winning designs on Local, Express and Express Monthly bus passes. Aside from some technical guidelines and a selected theme, which is open to interpretation, participants are encouraged to be as creative as they wish.

The 2021 contest theme was What Does Charlotte Mean To You? Contest submissions were evaluated by artists and transit professionals to select three winners, whose artwork is now printed on CATS' passes for the entire calendar year.

  • First Place: Eva Crawford - Local Monthly Pass
    • About the artwork (titled "Uptown") – I created this artwork last summer while working as an instructor at Lorien Academy for the Arts in West Charlotte. In order to best convey the concept of a stylized cityscape using watercolor and collage, I made a sample to show my class. The inspiration for my piece was the energy, support and love I witnessed during the painting of the Black Lives Matter mural on Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte. That moment represented an important and positive shift in our city's desire to embrace necessary change for growth on many levels.
  • Second Place: Maria Senkel - Express Monthly Pass
    • About the artwork – A look in the side view mirror will show you that Charlotte is a city on the move. A growing city with artistic flair, plenty of places to explore, communities to reach, and people to connect. The idea for this painting came to me during a bus ride in the Ballantyne area. I noticed the side view mirror on the bus and being a fantasy artist, my mind went places. The mirror became a window to a story.
  • Third Place: Leandro Manzo - Express Plus Monthly Pass
    • About the artwork – Angel en North Tryon is a work that began in Charlotte, but I ended it in Buenos Aires Argentina, since I had to travel there to make a series of exhibitions. Among the amount of finished and unfinished works that I took with me, Angel was in North Tryon. I think the biggest motivation to finish it was that I was terribly missing Chatlotte in that time I spent in Buenos Aires. I first came to Charlotte in 2001 to make an exhibition, so I met, toured, walked and experienced the city for firts time. And from the first moment began to emerge, along a love for her, a series of oil paintings of Charlotte landscapes. I had never painted landscapes before, and I started to do it, inspired by this city!

In addition to be printed on thousands of bus passes, CATS gifted framed passes to a variety of its partners, CATS management, city management and Mayor Vi Lyles. So, next time you visit a Charlotte museum, look for the beautiful Transit Pass Design Contest artwork!