As Christo's Plan Gets Closer to Deadline, Communities Remain Divided and Inspired

August 2010

Christo, the internationally renowned artist who wants to drape a tunnel made from aluminum-foil-like fabric over 5.9 miles of the Arkansas River, has launched an online campaign asking people to support his Over the River project as he attempts to win permission from officials. The Denver Post, which provides a broad overview and update on the issue with a series of articles, writes that the project continues to both inspire and enrage some Coloradans. Count Ben Goodin, a rafting guide from Coaldale, in the latter group. "Hanging rags over the river is the same as hanging pornography in a church," he says. Others have raised concerns that the project will harm the environment, though Christo argues it won't. For many in the state's artistic communities, the prospect that the project could be killed is embarrassing. As Dean Sobel, director of Denver's Clyfford Still Museum, tells the Post, Christo is on a "very, very short list of important living artists."

Patrick Shea, a former Bureau of Land Management chief, talks about how he eventually was won over by the project. "One of the reasons I became such a big advocate for Over the River was that it expands the categories people have in thinking about public lands," says Shea, who left the BLM in 1999. The project, if approved, would not be the first for Christo in Colorado. In 1972, with his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, he placed a 250,000-square-foot orange curtain across the 1,250-foot-wide Rifle Gap, where it was shredded by the wind in just over a day, notes the Post. Image: christojeanneclaude.net