September 19 2008, 3:19 PM
Over the years, Colorado has had special access to the rare artistic relationship that is Christo and Jeanne-Claude. In 1973, the Manhattan-based couple created "Valley Curtain," an orange sheet the length of the Brooklyn Bridge that hung across Rifle Gap near Rifle. During the early 1990s, they began developing their idea for "Over the River," a highly controversial cloth installation that is scheduled to cover the Arkansas River, from Salida to Canyon City, in 2012. And, presently, they have permitted Metro State's Center for Visual Art to display 130 of their original drawings and prints. World-famous installation artist Jeanne-Claude offered her hand to her husband and artistic partner Christo last night as they maneuvered the Buell Theater stage. He took it, and the two 73-year-olds stepped off the stage into the audience, prompting a a slideshow and lecture that would explain their works, spanning from California to Australia. As they spoke, they interrupted each other, triggering the other to remember this detail or recount that story. While Christo's hand sketched their plans to drape the Australian coast in fabric or dot a Japanese river valley with umbrellas, last night's lecture made it very clear that Jeanne-Claude's sharp thinking and demand for integrity (she personally pays each one of their project workers) pushes their projects forward. Because of their powerful presence in Colorado, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have the potential to leave lasting marks of their artistic works and relationship on the state. Indeed, when Mayor Hickenlooper endorsed "Over the River" at a post-lecture reception, he compared the upcoming installation to the Denver Art Museum, MCA Denver, and the new Clifford Stills Museum. While that remains to be seen, last night the duo's impressively compatible relationship certainly did inspire lingering conversations of art and romance.