The artist named Christo, who formely worked side by side with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, have been involved in numerous pieces of art work since the 1960’s that have been not just in a large magnitude, but have also incorporated the existing environment as well. In 1969 they began wrapping the cost of Little Bay, located in Sydney Australia. 95,600 square meters of synthetic fabric and 56 kilometers of rope was used, making it by far the largest piece of art work at its time.
Over the River by Christo
From there the couple began similar projects including the famous “The Umbrellas” which was popular for years until a high wind picked up part of the display and killed a woman, the Pont Neuf, the Wrapped Reichstag, and the Surrounded Islands, which surrounded eleven islands in the Biscayne Bay in 603,650 square meters of pink fabric.
Though his wife has passed, Christo continues to impress and continues his signature style of art that “wraps” or “covers” significantly sized environmental masses. His recent endeavor is a $50 million project meant to drape 6 miles of the Arkansas River in fabric, from bank to bank.
Though monumental, it has already met some controversy. Federal land managers approved the project in the latter half of 2011, but in February 1st the project met a legal challenge. The suit will try to prove that the land managers violated the law in approving the project, and that the project has severe environmental impacts.
Known for a group of supporters, often times having hundreds of volunteers aid in his efforts, a rally was held near the county administration building in support of the project that included handing out blue t-shirts. In opposition s ROAR, or Rags Over the Arkansas River, who say that the project does not benefit locals. Local politicians have been quick to point out though that this part of Colorado, near Canon City, is still struggling economically, and the “Over the River” artwork will put the city on the map, bringing in tourism and other artists, helping the community in the long run.
Work was expected to begin for Over the River in the Summer of this year, and completed in the late summer of 2014. Near 400,000 visitors was expected to visit during the construction and viewing period leading up to August 2014, giving a large incentive for the project to continue.
ROAR’s lawsuit, filed by students at the University of Denver, state that the project harms wildlife, including the bighorn sheep. Protecting the environment is vital they say, and such a large project should be considered as a resource extraction project.
Regardless of the impact, Christo has a large following and he any work he completes or even proposes is sure to make the news. Fabric and environmentally friendly cleaners will be key in helping lessen the controversy for this project. Green cleaning of the fabric used will also lessen the impact.