Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Fourth Friday Lunch = This Friday 02/25/05 Noon

Hello Fellow Docents

We'll try meeting for lunch ... No RSVP required ... just show up.

Day: Fourth Friday
Date: 2/25/05
Place: India Mahal
Time : 12:00 Noon

India Mahal is at 823 Pacific Ave Tacoma WA 98402-5209 Phone:
(253)-272-5700 - and has a very inexpensive buffet ($5.99 ?!). The
food is good.

Sanjeev Narang


email: ask (at) eConsultant dot com

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Colorado Still Waits for Its 'Gates'

Colorado Still Waits for Its 'Gates'

While New York basks in the orange glow of "The Gates" in Central Park, some Colorado residents are idly wondering when the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude might turn their gaze back on them.

In the "artworks in progress" section of the artists' Web site,, the only project listed besides "The Gates" is "Over the River," a plan to suspend several miles of shimmering fabric panels above a stretch of the Arkansas River in Colorado during a summer.

Now that "The Gates" is completed and on display, the question for many is, what next?

To people in Colorado, it may have seemed that their state was left in the dust when Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced "The Gates" project in January 2003 and vowed to help expedite it. Up to that point, equal attention was being devoted to the two plans, which, like all Christo projects, entail arduous quests for political permits and funds. ("The Gates" cost more than $20 million, which the artists say they bore exclusively themselves.)

"Because Christo got involved in other projects, we haven't heard from these folks in probably two years," said Roy Masinton, field manager for the Royal Gorge office of the federal Bureau of Land Management in Canon City, Colo. "We don't know the status - if this is next to go. You just never know until he makes some commitment."

"At best, we're looking at 2008 if he came in tomorrow," Mr. Masinton said of Christo.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude were unavailable this week for comment on the project, but their employees affirmed that "Over the River" was still in the works.

"Why would they NOT go ahead?" Jok Church, the Webmaster for the artists, said in an e-mail message. "This process can take many, many years. 'The Gates' took 26 years of bureaucracy."

Harriet Irgang, a spokeswoman for the artists who is working in a temporary press trailer at Central Park, said: "They were moving forward on 'Over the River' when suddenly the mayor of New York approached them and said that he was a big fan and wanted to make this happen. It was not that they didn't love 'Over the River' anymore."

But it takes more than love to get several miles of the Arkansas River covered in metallic fabric for a two-week period in summer. It takes cutting through reams of red tape as federal, state and local officials review how everything from fish to grazing sheep to ambulances and trains might be affected by the temporary art installation and the thousands of people it would doubtless attract.

Given the result of the artists' first project in Colorado - in 1972, an orange curtain stretched across Rifle Gap was torn to shreds by fierce winds a mere 28 hours after its unveiling - it's hard to blame Coloradans for feeling skittish about the next one.

Christo first announced plans to create "Over the River" in 1995, when he and Jeanne-Claude were in the midst of wrapping the Reichstag in Berlin with silvery fabric and bright blue rope (a project conceived in 1971). They traveled 14,000 miles and considered 89 rivers in the Rocky Mountains before settling on that stretch of the Arkansas, between Salida and Canon City, about 150 miles south of Denver.

The river's steep, high banks are suitable for anchoring the steel cables from which the silvery fabric will be suspended; visitors would find it easy to view the artwork from an adjacent road. The horizontal fabric panels, suspended 10 to 23 feet above the water, would be interrupted by existing bridges, tress and rocks, with sunshine blinking through the gaps. The installation could be viewed from above, or from below by rafters and kayakers.

Among the myriad concerns are fears that emergency vehicles' getting stuck in traffic along Highway 50 and the displacement of wildlife from nesting or food and water sources.

Although the town hall meetings that were held five years ago to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of "Over the River" are now a distant memory, the permit coordinator for the project, Kathryn Wadsworth, said that the project remained very much alive. "All of this testing and environmental assessment is being done by a private firm," she said. Once the data is assembled, she said, it will go to the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies for review. (No one at J. F. Sato Associates of Littleton, Colo., the consulting engineering firm conducting the research, returned calls.)

Ms. Wadsworth said that tests had already been discreetly conducted with full-size models in Western Colorado to determine the effect of the wind on the fabric and cables.

Working as a park ranger for the Colorado State Parks, she first met Christo and Jeanne-Claude in 1995 when she pulled them over as they scoped out the Arkansas River in their vans.

Once a permit is issued, it would typically take two to four years to ready the artwork, Mrs. Wadsworth said.

In the small towns that would be most affected by "Over the River," the plan was initially met with a mix of arched eyebrows, confusion and glee - sentiments that haven't changed much in light of the public attention lavished on "The Gates."

"I love the project, and I think we're blessed to have it," said George Turner, executive director of the Canon City Chamber of Commerce. "Not five minutes ago I got a call from a lady down in Texas wanting me to pin down when it's going to happen and where it's going to happen."

From his desk, Mr. Turner can admire two autographed sketches that Christo presented to the Chamber of Commerce.

Others are less enchanted. "I think it's a dumb idea," Representative Joel Hefley, a Republican congressman whose district encompasses the site chosen for "Over the River," said through a spokeswoman. "Even though I don't have a say, I hope those that do don't allow it to go ahead."

Mike Stiehl, a Fremont County commissioner who would take part in the permit-granting process, is also leery of the project. "I haven't seen much that would convince me it's a worthwhile enterprise," he said. "Transportation is a real sticky problem, and there are environmental concerns. That river was designed to be in the sun, and I'm not sure what it would do to the wildlife. There are bighorn sheep, bald eagles and other creatures that call the canyon and river home."

Mr. Stiehl added: "I think it's silly, but that's just me. I like the look of the river myself."

Others are torn. "I was on both sides of the fence," said Steph Brady, artist and owner of The Green Cat gallery in downtown Salida. "I do live down in the canyon, where it's really going to affect me, and I probably will have to stay in town for the two weeks it's up. On the other side, Salida is a wonderful art town, and we need a good break."

Gerald Watson, a maintenance superintendent with the Colorado Department of Transportation, which would also have a say in the permit process, said that despite problems like traffic jams, the project would probably do more good than harm. "I think it'd be kinda interesting to see them put a curtain across the river," he mused. "Probably be something you'd never see again in your lifetime."

Docents Needed for Saturday!

Good morning and good Tuesday to you all!


Group tour Coordinators is requesting 3 docents for their visit to the museum on Saturday, February 26. They will be bringing 2 groups of 60 students; the first group at 12:45 pm, the second group at 2:00 pm. Barbara Reisman is scheduled for the morning and Linda Reiter is scheduled for the afternoon. We need 3 additional docents so that Barbara and Linda can roam free through the galleries.  


Anyone who is willing to be a special docent for these tours on Saturday, please contact me ASAP. FYI: We will be doing the same arrangement for them on March 12 and will need 3 additional docents then, too.


Thank you so much!




Jacqueline Harmon

Education Assistant


1701 Pacific Avenue

Tacoma, Washington 98402

T: 253.272.4258 x3030

F: 253.627.1898