Christo, Statements of Freedom and the Arts

As some of you know, early on, I was opposed to Over The River. It made no sense to me. Then, I did some research, spent some time with him and simply tried to "get it." It seemed so obnoxious, and frankly, offensive. But, the more I learned about his works, the more I understood this piece and it's commentary about how we approach nature. I watched people discuss the value of the canyon and what it meant to us. I learned what the west and open spaces meant to him. This NYT piece is interesting, and ties some of his motivations together for me. Enjoy -bd

"... As a young man in the 1950s, he fled communist Bulgaria, then part of the totalitarian Soviet imperium. When the Berlin Wall went up in 1961, he made a wall of oil barrels on the Rue Visconti in Paris. From 1964 to 1967, he lived as an illegal immigrant in New York with his late wife Jeanne-Claude, before getting a green card and becoming a citizen in 1973. By the time America opened its arms to him, he had been stateless for 17 years. Freedom meant something. The United States was more than a country; it was an idea.... " FULL ARTICLE LINK HERE


  • Bill,

    I tried to attach the recording of the oral arguments before the 10th Circuit Appellate Court on November 18, 2015 , but alas, the site says an mp3 file isn't allowed.

    Being there in person was phenomenal and the recording cannot capture the intensity of the court's grilling of the DOJ attorney, her inability to respond, and her admission that the BLM does not have a threshold to trigger the necessary thinking and RMP modifications for a project, any project, of such magnitude, especially in an ACEC. Which is to say from my point of view that the political pressure to make this thing happen put the BLM in a bind: use the tools that they had or risk being exposed by proposing a completely new set of tools obviously crafted for a singular event. They chose the former.

    When OTR attorney Potter got up, it was all over, the damage was done. Her point - so what if a few sheep are lost, hunters are allowed to kill 10 or 12 every year, what is the big deal? - was ill received.

    ROAR Attorney Mike Harris had done his job, very well.

    The deflated countenance of Potter, Berger and others was palatable leaving the courtroom and lurking around in the lobby as a group. I can still hear them thinking: "unless this court rules completely opposite of what just happened in the oral arguments, we're screwed. How to tell Christo and how does the BLM justify supporting this effort further?"

    They were allowed to stew over these thoughts from November 18, 2015 until January 25, 2017, when Christo, contemplating an almost inevitable loss, and looking at millions of dollars in legal and administrative costs to fight an uphill battle to have BLM revise the RMP, saw his way out by blaming Trump. 81, and out of options, he quit.

    One massive ego, with bad hair, blamed an even bigger ego with bad hair. How poetic.

    Interesting that the article's author mentions the umbrella's, but fails to mention how that "art" display killed 2 people.

  • edited March 2017

    Interesting. I think the thing I find the most fascinating is how many people I meet who oppose his work, then see it—and are blown away. I'd like to have had this experience.

    But, as I and others have argued before, in many ways the work is complete. One angry ROAR supporter told me, "that damn Christo, all I think about now is the canyon and how beautiful it is. Somebody has to protect it, and I will do everything I can to stop him!" Years ago, Christo told me, "even if the project doesn't go through, hopefully people will still think about the canyon in different ways."

    The thing I was most annoyed by before meeting him was his ego. After spending time with him, I did not sense it at all. I'm just intrigued by my own unexpected journey to understand him and his art. I bet it would have been a lot like GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD...lots of hype, a weird thing, then on to the next Salida issue. Thanks for writing. -bd

  • You're welcome. Gentlemen of the Road did indeed turn out well, whole thing past the ever present line of tourists at the Hwy 50 crossing which snarled traffic, AND the whole thing from start to finish lasted a week or so. OTR was 3 years minimum, plus all the other negative aspects. Not really an "apples to apples" comparison.

    None the less, it's over, and at the end of the day, the county got what it wanted, publicity and exposure, and nothing was harmed, nobody died, and most businesses made about the same amount of money locally as they would had it happened, not to mention the fishing and hunting outfitters didn't lose the million plus dollars the EIS had projected they would lose.

    Folks here in the canyon, after the last windstorm, have been speculating what would have happened had the tarps been strung over the river and seen the 125 MPH winds we had here that broke trees, tore a roof off a house etc.

    Have a great day !!

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