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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Behold the Gates

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This past Sunday we made the journey to see Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Gates in Central Park. We were in town to visit with Erica and Sam, and to make their engagement portrait. Our first sight of the Gates was from our taxi as it approached the park towards the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum was mobbed, eliminating any chance of viewing the Gates from the roof. After a lunch break at a diner on 82nd Street, we headed into the park by the egyptian gallery on the north side of the MET. The gently curving path was covered in a tunnel of saffron cloth and vinyl structure, which served as a dramatic introduction to the park-wide network of 7,500 gates.

With only enough time to make one trip across the park along the 85th Street Traverse, I wasn't able to spend as much time as would have liked reflecting on the Gates. But perhaps our short visit kept me from over-thinking this ephemeral display so I could enjoy it at a pre-rational level.

In addition to moblogging from the scene so Amy's parents could get a look from Ohio, I also took lots of photos. Indeed, many have remarked that the Gates will likely be the most photographed artwork. Most of the park's visitors had cameras that will, over the course of the 16 days that the Gates will be displayed, no doubt create millions of similar images and video. When the Gates are dismantled for recycling on February 28th, every visitor who took photos will carry into the future a piece of a collective memory of the project much larger than what the artist himself could possibly produce.

In a city full of large-scale constructions, the Christo's gift of human-scale gates gave everyone a chance to make art from art.

Here are some more photos from our visit to the Gates.

And some links:

Christo_gates_swatchUPDATE 2/23: One other thing I didn't have time for while we were touring the Gates was to wait for a project volunteer to return with some of the 1,000,000 free sample swatches that are being given away. But sure enough, a search in eBay turned up plenty of them. I ended up using "buy now" to acquire a set of two swatches and postcards. Other items noted are Gates tote bags (made of the same nylon fabric) that were sold at the MET, baseball caps, metal bolts and plastic covers from the gates and a funny entry of Gates made from LEGO Duplo blocks which are selling for $5000. One shouldn't underestimate the ingenuity of native New Yorkers—I fully expect to see a mostly intact Gate on auction after the 28th. There are also enough of these orange fabric samples floating around now that artists will likely incorporate them into their own pieces.

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