February 2005, then a sophomore in college, living in Chicago, I had decided to purchase a plane ticket back to New York to witness the unveiling of The Gates, the newest work from Christo and Jeanne Claude. It was the only time in the entire history of me going to school that I came home for a reason other than winter break, but I figured this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
This inspirational and ethically bound artistic duo could do no wrong in my eyes. I was always flabbergasted, awe struck by their previous endeavors. Their massive scale installations always appealed to me on a primitive and purely aesthetic level, which as I delved into researching them, I found that's really all that they were striving to archive anyway.
I also found that they never sell their work, they recycle it when each project is done. It is for no one to own, just to experience. And they accept no money from the cities in which the pieces exist in. The pieces are all financed from the sale of their preliminary sketches (which I had the privilege to see at Art Chicago) independent from anyone else's money. They chose never to accept outside funding, because it may alter thier work if they have to appease other finacers. I know that The Gates took over 20 years to be realized, talks with the city, logositcs and fund raising, yet they never gave up.
So one very cold morning in Feburary I grabbed the 6 and took it into Manhattan, to the very North part of Central Park, and witnessed the unvieling of the Gates. The staff used long poles with hooks on the end to pull the curtians of safron colored fabric out of the shells, to hang draped between two poles along many of the paths in Central Park. Bystanders like myself were handed small squares of the fabric, samples which we could keep and touch, put in scrap books or throw away.
It hurts my heart to say that last night one half of this amazing duo passed away. Jeanne Claude has died at 74 due to a brain annuerism. I have been truly touched by the work her and her husband did, and the way in which they did it. Always an inspiration, forever in my heart, bonne travaile Jeanne Claude!