Comments Sought On Public Artwork At 502 Underpass

The drawing by artist Evelyn Rosenberg shows a sketch of an early stage conceptual drawing of the project she is proposing to the Arts in Public Places Advisory Board. Courtesy photo

Evelyn Rosenberg. Photo by Gary Rosenberg


Members of the Arts in Public Places Advisory Board (APPB) are looking for public comment on a project that is in the early planning stages.

In December 2017, Los Alamos County’s Public Works Department approached the Board to solicit recommendations for public art that would transform an 80-foot long concrete tunnel into something beautiful for the pedestrians and cyclists who use that part of the Canyon Rim Trail.  

The tunnel will pass under Hwy 502 and connect the co-op parking lot with the Canyon Rim Trailhead, expanding safe and easy access to trails on both sides of the highway.

The Board proposes commissioning an installation from Albuquerque artist Evelyn Rosenberg. Her artwork uses “Detonography,” a technique of her own invention that uses controlled explosions to create intricate metal sculptures.  

Rosenberg is a nationally recognized artist, with more than 30 years of experience, with public art displayed in communities all over the country.  

The APPB seeks additional public comment on this proposal to include art with the 502 underpass.  

To provide comments for the Board’s consideration, please email  by Sept. 6 or stop by APPB’s Gordon Concert booth on Aug. 31.

From Evelyn Rosenberg:
The underpass takes its theme from Los Alamos itself, blending the natural world with the technological.  A tunnel can be a dark place or simply a way to move from one area to another, but the 502 underpass tunnel for pedestrians and cyclists will be an inviting, exciting space—a space where discoveries are made.

Drawing inspiration from a particle accelerator, a tunnel in which high-energy beams collide to make marvelous things, the underpass will also reflect the natural beauty of northern New Mexico. This organic machine does not separate science from nature, but shows how they are part of the same universe. The long cylinders at an accelerator’s entrance become tree branches and roots at the entrance to the underpass tunnel; the exterior “machinery” will contain images from both science and nature, with human hands at the controls.  The exterior will be a work of art, but it will also invite the curious to see what lies within.

Inside this organic collider, particles race towards each other not just in straight lines, but with swirling, organic forms made from shaped metals including copper, brass, aluminum, and stainless steel.  The lighting needed to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe in a long tunnel will be part of the installation, meeting safety requirements while enhancing the art with lights along the ceiling and walls.  

At the center of the underpass tunnel, the particles collide into a large sculpture curved along the ceiling, representing an explosion that contains everything in the universe.  The wide range of imagery in this centerpiece will be made with Detonography, my forming technique that uses explosives to create metal sculptures.  

Detonography is beautiful and visually interesting from a distance, but it also rewards close examination.  This centerpiece will be a beautiful element for someone just passing through, but there are more discoveries to be made when looking at it carefully.  A simple concrete bench on each side of the tunnel could allow someone to step out of the thoroughfare and contemplate the detail of the artwork.
All art inside the tunnel will be above 8-feet high to deter vandalism, and all surfaces will be coated in an easy-to-clean, anti-graffiti coating.  

This underpass installation would combine everything I have learned about Detonography and public art in the past 30 years.  As a long-time resident of Albuquerque, it would be an honor to develop this unique project in Los Alamos, and I would view it as one of the crowning pieces of my career.” – Evelyn Rosenberg

Again, the Art in Public Places Board invites public comment on this proposal to integrate art into the 502 underpass.  Please email feedback to by Sept. 6. For a link to Evelyn Rosenberg’s public art page, visit

One panel, called ‘String Theory,’ from a much larger piece called ‘Kaleidoscope’ by Evelyn Rosenberg. The artwork is installed in a library in Sarasota, Fla. Photoby Gary Rosenberg

The sculpture ‘Scales of Justice’ by Evelyn Rosenberg, which is installed in the plaza of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Courthouse. Photo by Gary Rosenberg

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