Client: MCAD City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department
Location: El Paso, TX, United States
Completion date: 2021
Artwork budget: $250,000
Christopher J Weed
Christopher Weed Sculpture Inc.
Museum and Cultural Affairs Department MCAD
El Paso’s unique relationship with Ciudad Juarez across the Mexico-United States border was the inspiration for this gateway sculpture titled “Bienvenido”. This iconic installation is symbolic in that it speaks to El Paso, its storied past, present, and bright future in a thought-provoking fashion, and its relationship, with its sister city Juarez to the south. This abstract Door towers over 30’ high and weighs 14000 pounds. Whimsical and painted a bright yellow, (the happiest of all colors) it is open to El Paso, welcoming the viewer to explore this city, its community, and all it has to offer with open arms. This larger-than-life gateway installation is situated in a roundabout on historic South El Paso street, 4 blocks from the Ciudad Juarez border and in front of the historic Paso del Norte Hotel. This sculpture was commissioned by the Museum and Cultural Affairs Department in El Paso, Texas. The Doot is illuminated in the evening with RGBA Light Emitting Diodes that circulate through the color spectrum in a spectacular fashion, transcending time.
The goals of this installation were to create a larger-than-life gateway sculpture that would welcome the viewer to El Paso while activating this area. Scale was an important factor as the installation would be surrounded by large buildings and could easily be swallowed up by the surrounding urban landscape. South El Paso Street is one of the oldest streets in El Paso leading to Mexico and as such, the sculpture should tie into this history. Color was also an important factor as the installation needed to pop, drawing the viewer nearer and piquing their curiosity. Lastly, The sculpture would have a daytime and nighttime presence as this part of the city is quite active into the wee hours.
The collaborative process between MCAD, the city of El Paso, and the numerous other people involved including architects, engineers, city planners, contractors, and my design team, was seamless. All parties were flexible as sometimes there are unknowns with roadway infrastructure projects, especially in an old city like El Paso. This integration and pride in the project, one that would represent the city of El Paso for many generations to come was very welcoming and speaks to the pride felt by this community in their city.
The symbolism of an opened door is powerful and one of exciting new potential. it is a passage from one place to another, abandoning the old and embracing the new. An open door signifies welcome and invites discovery and investigation. This symbolism speaks to America, a nation of immigrants, and who we want to be as a nation moving forward.