Artist Christo faces opposition to Colorado project

10/19/2013 12:00 AM

10/18/2013 3:49 PM

Installation artist Christo has said opposition to his planned “Over the River” project on the Arkansas River in Colorado is part of the art, and he welcomes debate over what is appropriate for his displays.

Christo is fighting to string about 6 miles of fabric over sections on a 42-mile stretch of the river. The team hopes to start construction next year and open the exhibit in 2015 for two weeks before dismantling it.

An opposition group, Rags Over the Arkansas River, has filed a lawsuit in federal court, saying the project will be too disruptive to wildlife, traffic, fishing and river rafting businesses.

Christo says bring it on.

“We are enjoying that. We are not masochists, but we are enjoying the communication with so many” people, the Bulgarian-born artist said.

The 78-year-old artist, who spoke with the Denver Post on Thursday, spent 26 years fighting to erect 7,503 fabric gates in New York City’s Central Park in 2005, and for 32 years before wrapping 178 trees in a Swiss park in 1998. His 1991 “The Umbrellas” project that unfurled 3,100 umbrellas in Japan and California had to wade through several state and federal lawsuits.

Christo has completed 22 of his projects, including wrapping Berlin’s Reichstag, draping Australian coastline and surrounding 11 Biscayne Bay islands in pink, shimmering fabric – all at his own cost. He has weathered 37 rejections for his projects over 50 years.

Those tribulations are as much of a reward as the flowering of his grandiose projects, he said.

“For many years, all the people are thinking how the work will be beautiful, how the work will be awful,” he said. “Basically the work is working in the mind of the people before it physically exists “

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