Client: The City of Albuquerque
Location: Albuquerque, NM, United States
Completion date: 2003
Artwork budget: $200,000
Public Art Agent
Albuquerque's One Percent for Art Program
Public Art Agent
New Mexico Cultural Corridors Program
The 22-foot tall Aluminum Yucca by Gordon Huether is made from salvaged aluminum fuel tanks from military aircraft. The hollow aluminum forms were sliced vertically to resemble the scooped shape of the Datil Yucca leaf which is native to the area. At night, the sculpture is illuminated by a slow-moving, solar-powered color wheel that recreates the hues of the Albuquerque desert landscape.
Gordon Huether was commissioned to create a relevant, site-specific public art piece, a sculpture that is meant to be seen and experienced by travelers on Interstate 40 and Route 66. Funded with grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the state and the City of Albuquerque's One Percent for Art Program, Aluminum Yucca truly activates the space, builds a strong local connection and raises awareness of the unique landscape of the area. The exaggerated scale celebrates the romance and nostalgia of western Road Culture in the 20th century - evident all along Route 66 in wigwam-shaped hotels, five-foot Mexican sombreros and giant cowboy boots. It is located on I-40 in Tijeras Canyon, Route 66 gateway to Albuquerque.
Aluminum Yucca now serves as a gateway to the city of Albuquerque. The collaboration between the artist, the Albuquerque One Percent for Art Program as well as the New Mexico Cultural Corridors Program was key to successfully creating a concept that resonates with the local culture, history and community. Huether, for instance, also references the significance of the military bases in the surrounding areas, as the main components of this structure are fuel tanks from military airplanes.
The City of Albuquerque's Public Art Program, one of the oldest in the country, began in 1978, with the passage of a Percent for Art ordinance. This bold initiative set aside 1% of City construction funds derived from the general obligation bond program and certain revenue bonds for the purchase or commission of works of art. Aluminum Yucca is 22 feet tall and the base measures approximately 15 feet by 15 feet.