July 31, 2011

BLM Lets Christo Have His Way

As I said two years ago, the fix was in. The Bureau of Land Management sees no reason why ze gran artiste known modestly as Christo should not drape the canyon of the Arkansas River in plastic.

That would improve it, you see. In the words of one breathless High Art fan-girl, "It is thrilling that the BLM has embraced the idea of bringing plastic art into the natural landscape" (statement by Aspen museum director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson).
The preferred alternative identified in the BLM's final environmental impact statement largely matches the vision of the Bulgarian-born Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude. They wanted to suspend 5.9 miles of silvery panels in eight sections above a 42-mile stretch of the river that mostly involves federal land.
What may be worst is that the BLM has agreed to let his construction crews block part of the  already narrow and twisting highway, which could add hours to the travel time of anyone who just wants to go from Point A to Point B.

Part of the canyon—from Parkdale to Texas Creek—could be bypassed via a longer, twistier drive on two state highways, Colorado 96 and 69. But the "preferred alternative" stupidly would let Christo's crews tie up the highway between Texas Creek and Salida, where there is no alternative highway route without going hundreds of miles out of the way—no consolation to the people who actually, y'know, live there.

All so that Christo can make a pile of money. Actually, since he makes his money from the sketches and other "conceptual" stuff, he could stop now and come out ahead. From an artistic standpoint, since he makes artworks "that go away," why not take the next step and make artworks that never existed?

After Interstate 70, which is quite a bit further north, U.S. Highway 50 is the next-busiest east-west route across Colorado. Sure, Christo has promised delays of no more than 15 minutes per work site, but there are a bunch of work sites. They are just the little people, mice nibbling around the ankles of Christo's grand artistic vision.

These rolling road-closures would last for two years during the project's construction and for months during its removal.

All the tourist-industry people licking their chops over the anticipated brief flush of visitors had better get used to some lean times first.

Sociology professor-turned-Cañon City fly shop owner Bill Edrington speaks for many:
"I'm afraid we are going to lose a lot of fisherman support on this river, and many of us here have worked all our lives to build this river into something special, and this project will destroy that work," said Bill Edrington, owner of Cañon City's Royal Gorge Anglers. "We have a law firm standing by waiting to file an injunction."

The battle now heads to the courts and the local jurisdictions, including Fremont and Chaffee counties, which must issue construction permits.
Drag it out. Time is on your side. Christo "is an artist and has courage," but he does not look too healthy.


Coloradocasters said...

The drilling of rock and mounting the suspension cables will leave visible scars forever. Humans should try to leave as small of a trace possible when entering wildlife and natural areas…this goes against everything I believe in except the freedom to be a complete an idiot if that is your choice. But that is only permitted if it doesn’t affect anyone else. Christo’s crappy art on the Arkansas is a thumb in the eye to everyone in this beautiful state. There are too many people willing to sell Colorado’s beauty out to the highest bidder these days.

Heather Houlahan said...

Where's my monkeywrench?

Peculiar said...

One of those times when I'm really glad I don't guide on the Arkansas. I must say, if this comes to fruition I sure hope that the locals seize the opportunity to create some vandalism meta-art.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


I mock christo, I mock his bird (as seen on Wikipedia), and his art. This would be hilarious if it wasn't to affect so many people and scar the landscape. now all you need is Antonio Ferrera to rock up and you'll have traffic jams, reduced tourism and a crappy documentary. nice

PS Love Meta-Art, Have Monkey Wrench will travel