MetroABQ Blog

FLYWAY by Robert Wilson & Jetty Jacks


FLYWAY by Robert Wilson, 2011

You may pass by this semi-recent art installation and only notice it as the colors slip from your view, while you maneuver among the numerous lanes of traffic on a busy Westside corridor. The Sandia Mountains are in the background and the Rio Grande is just down the hill. Welcome to FLYWAY, by Robert Wilson.

Robert Wilson wrote in his Artist’s Statement that: “FLYWAY was designed and built as a tribute to the Sand Hill Cranes and the natural world they inhabit here on their migratory journey: the River, the Bosque, the land and the sky. It is constructed of steel beams recycled from the jetty jacks that stood on the Bosque for 7 decades.


“FLYWAY was inspired by visual forms that cranes call to mind: the shape of a wing, the lines of neck and legs, the angles between the tip-feathers, or a cluster of tall birds on the ground. It echoes the shape of the Mountains, the arc of the sky, and the undulations of the Rio Grande and its Bosque.”

FLYWAY sits on the east side of Coors Blvd, between Montano and Eagle Ranch roads, at the entry to the Open Space Visitor Center and Art Gallery, which is off Bosque Meadows Road. The Open Space Visitors Center provides access to the Bosque Trails along the Rio Grande; the Art Gallery is ever-changing.


What are Jetty Jacks?

In 1943, the Army Corps of Engineers began installing jetty fields–numerous steel beams buried a few feet, with most of the beams sticking out of the Bosque, crossing each other like large ‘X’es in the ground. These jetty jacks were used to ‘confine the river to a stable channel’ and for erosion control of the native plants along the river.

Over time, though, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers Jetty Jack Removal Study,” the “jetty jack fields have become a non-functioning eyesore that often complicate efforts toward restoration.” Although not meant to be permanent structures, many of the jetty jacks are too entwined in the vegetation and are close to impossible to remove without major environmental damage to the sensitive Bosque. Still, many are being removed.


Photo is from the Jetty Jack Removal Study.

Jetty jacks removed were used by the MRGCD for such things as fence posts and gate structures along the Rio Grande levee system. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested some material for construction of fish breeding facilities for the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow.” Clearly, Robert Wilson using Jetty Jacks for public art projects is another great way to recycle the metal rods.

Download attachments