February 24, 2005

A collection of eye-witness reports from The Gates, Christo and Jeanne-Claude's art project in New York's Central Park:
    Artist Iris Sandkuhler, who'd participated in six past Christo projects and led a team of people who put up 100 gates, said she'd "never worked in such cold before''; one day it was miserably rainy. "My most personal big surprise,'' she said, when I asked about working on the project, "is how sore I was.''
"Everyone marveling and happy,'' wrote Kate Hilsenbeck. "Many New Yorkers got in the swing of things by wearing saffron-colored accessories. I even saw an apricot poodle wearing a little orange kerchief.'' Someone had surrounded Strawberry Fields, the John Lennon memorial, with orange fabric, not part of the project.

"While looking out over the Great Lawn,'' said Bill Self, "two local women chatted with us and we said how we noticed everyone was smiling. One of the women said, 'I saw that, too. I've been here over 30 years, and it took me a long time to learn how not to smile.' '' On the other hand, David Landis overheard one native New Yorker turned art critic: "It looks like a bunch of shmatte to me.'' Richard Buggs walked behind schoolgirls as they counted the gates, "75, 76, 77,'' one by one.

Many visitors from Europe are taking advantage of the cheap dollar, writes Montecito (Santa Barbara County) art dealer Carol Thompson. The newly reopened Museum of Modern Art is so crowded, that one day last week "they used all the coat check spots and had to turn people away. According to the guards, it was a first, despite all the crowds they've attracted since reopening in October.''

Making reservations for Presidents weekend a particularly busy viewing time Beverly Best found one hotel that had been charging $199 a weeknight jacking the price to $999 for one weekend night. A snowstorm provided a second act for Best's first viewing of The Gates. "It was a completely different show in the snow.''

P.S. Stanlee Gatti, former head of the Art Commission, was one of those who made the inspiring pilgrimage. What would he envision for San Francisco? Wrapping buildings has been done by Christo, but Gatti would wrap up "the entire Board of Supervisors, and then throw Tony Hall in.'' Or (more high-mindedly), "connect the neighborhoods by some sort of fabric swath,'' a project that would demonstrate that 'hoods are both separate and together.

San Francisco Chronicle
February 24, 2005

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