Monday, October 16, 2006

Winter Color

This past week I've been on hiatus enjoying the company of my favorite freshman, home from college. I've also been coordinating a blood drive which will take place today (public service announcement - please donate blood if you can - there's a desperate shortage!)

In between everything else I have been impatiently checking the trees every day. They are mostly still green. It has just started to get a little chilly around here, so I imagine they will soon begin their last hurrah of brilliant colors before winter sets in. Desperate for a color fix, I revisited photos I took while visiting The Gates last year, in Central Park.

The Gates was an art installation by the husband and wife team of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The artists first conceived the idea for The Gates in 1979 and asked the City of New York for permission to install the work. Permission denied. Denied, denied, denied. They finally got permission from the new Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, in 2002.

We went to see the installation on a beautiful February day in 2005, after a new snowfall. We started off by going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we enjoyed a rooftop view of The Gates crisscrossing through 23 miles of trails in Central Park. What was astonishing was how crowded the park was! So many people strolling the park, enjoying the day and the artwork in the middle of the winter.

We spent the afternoon walking The Gates. Everyone in the park was smiling, friendly and in awe of this magnificent project - it felt like a party. I think NYC sorely needed a project like this - it brought a little fun and wonder to a city that had been grieving since 9/11. I think the art did not consist solely of The Gates - I think there was a synergistic effect of the installation and the visitors. It was not like a museum, where visitors go to look at artwork. I think in this case, the visitors were an integral part of the artwork. I think the ephemeral nature of the installation also added to this feeling of excitement - it was not something you could go back to. There was only a two week window for this exhibit. We were very fortunate to experience The Gates.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, go - and don't forget to post photos for the rest of us!


The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

I LOVED the Gates - and found walking through to be a form of mediation. It was a way of bringing folks together, of celebrating that we had gone and that we could be together in the open.
We have lots of color here - and it getting cold. That wet wind that blows in from the ocean makes it feel even colder that the temperature and you notice it! I'm in no hurry for the snow!

Sunflower Optimism said...

Rev. Kate, in retrospect I am glad that permission was denied the artists for over 20 years. I think the installation brought a lot of healing to the city after the trauma of 9/11. You couldn't help but have a smile on your face and awe in your heart while walking The Gates. What a gift to NYC!

I imagine celebrating Mardi Gras in NO after Katrina would have the same kind of impact - healing and affirmation of the spirit of the city.

They can't take that away from us.

otownhandyman said...

you're lucky, Sunflower. I mean, here in Florida we do have 4 seaons: Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer and Next Summer. It's just not the same.

Glad The Gates brightened your city and brought people together.

Velvet Sacks said...

I remember seeing The Gates on television and admiring them. Your photos are lovely, and I'm glad to have a better understanding of what The Gates meant to New Yorkers.

And, Otown (if I may call you that for short), I lived in Miami for 18 months. I thought there were only two seasons: wet and dry.

Kat Campbell said...

What an experience! Your pictures sere wonderful. Outdoor art exhibits are my favorite kind, especially interactive and interpritive art.

Ordinary Janet said...

Interesting and unusual! I don't recall hearing about this before, but then again my memory is a sieve these days. I wonder, why saffron? I didn't see anything citing the reason in the link. Unless that color catches sunlight better?

Sunflower Optimism said...

Thank you for your patience friends!

Thanks for stopping by, Tony. I think I'd like some of ANY kind of summer right now. Cold, damp and dreary here today.

They were a sight to see, Velvet. Absolutely breathtaking! The beauty of The Gates as artwork was phenomenal - but the act of being there with everyone else just filled me with exuberance.

Thanks Kat - you couldn't miss, taking the photos, The Gates was very photogenic! Their next project is the Arkansas River in Colorado, sometime after 2010. How about we all meet to see it?

Janet, I wondered the same about the saffron - it was the artist's choice. But you know, it was perfect - brilliant against the neutrals of winter.

Heimdallr said...

What gorgeous vibrant colours and what an exciting way to display art. I doubt if I'll see that exhibit for real, but thanks for sharing your photos.

Here in the UK our Virgina Creeper is a beautiful bright scarlet at the moment, the first of the leaves to colour. I love autumn erm Fall colours.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Me too, Sandy, I love those colors - still waiting for the trees to change. We have a warm spell coming for a few days, so that may postpone the color a bit.

You won't be seeing the exhibit - it was temporary, only up for two weeks. I think that's part of what made it special.

Dr.John said...

Sometimes bad decesions like refusing them the chance to set up the gates lead to good results when the decision to let them set up the exhibit helps in healing. I wish I could have seen the exhibit itself but tahnkis for sharing the pictures.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Well, I have PLENTY more photos of The Gates, if you're interested Dr. John!

Yes, I agree,there is a lesson to be learned here, when we are disappointed about something - we never know what awaits us down the road. Hmmm, I have a good story to write about that.

Thanks for stopping by, Dr. John, I don't know how you do it, too many blogs, so little time!