The Gates

The sun and mid-50's weather made an unusual appearance in February in NYC yesterday afternoon (or maybe not so rare in this age of global warming), so after cooking class, I rushed up to Central Park on the subway to catch Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates before sundown. I saw them for about an hour before the sun disappeared behind skyscrapers to the southwest.

I wasn't sold on The Gates prior to seeing them, perhaps because of the sheer volume of build-up, but they won me over as the afternoon passed. The more gates I walked under, the more at peace I felt. Is it the orange color? The feeling of returning to childhood evoked by walking under wind-swept swaths of fabric? The rustling of the breeze against the nylon reminded me of rolling in piles of leaves in the autumn, or of lying under bedsheets billowing in the wind sweeping in an open bedroom window. The effect of The Gates is not the visual punch in the face that results from sheer magnitude or scale but instead one of repetition and color (one can only imagine what the impact of the installation would have been if the artists had received permission to put up 15,000 gates, as they originally wanted, instead of the 7,500 they were ultimately granted). To my eye, they add something to Central Park (which I've never thought of as breathtakingly beautiful). Also, it's a treat to see one of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's installations in person in my lifetime. Since they're only temporary and since Christo and Jeanne-Claude funded them, I don't understand New Yorkers who grouse about them as if the city had been assaulted (one crazy woman on the subway yesterday asked me if I'd seen them, muttering to no one in particular that "they'd raped Central Park"). A more understandable objection, though the details are not clear to me, is the environmental one. Environmentalists worried about the work's effect on Central Park's birds.

A few pics here, with a couple more available on Flickr...