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Eight points


christogates1libChristo and Jeanne- Claude‘s ambitions exceeded their grasp this time, which is not to say “The Gates” are an unmitigated failure. They’re an 8 out of 10.

The color is divine in the wintery Central Park. The banner-like curtains catch the sun, creating a festival or circus ambiance. They brought people out of their homes and out of their shells–it was a moment when people let their urban guards down and talked to complete strangers at the drop of a hat.

christogatesunziplibThe highlight to me was the opening of each curtain–the drama of unVelcro-ing the plastic sheath, hearing the thunk of the heavy cardboard tube released by the unrolling curtain kept me fascinated as a tribe of “paid volunteers” repeated the task over and over again. I loved the system. I loved the noise. I loved the moment of release. I loved the threat of the falling object.

Ultimately, the battle between the park and art got won by the park. The naked tree branches against the sky and Fredrick Law Olmstead’s landscape were merely punctuated, not transformed by the orange. Nonetheless, the arcade of giant orange electrical staples draped with blowing top-tier cafe curtains brought warm bodies out to fill the chilly winter landscape with action.

christostapleslibWe all kept searching for the perfect shot, taking one photo after another, but none seemed to satisfy. That’s because “The Gates” were discrete gestures that never added up to a vision.

I’m glad I went. But it was the scene (I bet Roberta’s gonna write about this), not the art (I believe Roberta has a different point of view), that made the trip so satisfying (plus the people and the work at the Whitney–more later–back to the kitchen packing).