Last Updated: Mar 28th, 2013 - 15:54:01
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Christo works make Colorado premiere at MSU Denver Center for Visual Art

By Leslie Petrovski

MSU Denver President Stephen Jordan met the artist Christo during a reception at MSU Denver's Center for Visual Art on Jan. 23.
The two original works of art donated to Colorado citizens by the artist Christo last year made their Centennial State debut at the Metropolitan State University of Denver Center for Visual Art during a reception with the artist on Jan. 23.

The next day the pieces were taken to the state Capitol to be hung in the Governor’s Office; they will eventually travel to museums around the state.

The pieces, preparatory works for “Over the River,” the planned public art installation in south central Colorado conceived by the artist and his late wife Jeanne-Claude, are collage studies in pencil, enamel paint and wax crayon that tell a visual story of the massive work of art that’s been in the making since 1996. Christo sells works such as these to fund giant public art projects for which he and Jeanne-Claude are known.

The sketches depict views of the project from the Arkansas River, over which 5.9 miles of silver fabric panels will be suspended along a 42-mile stretch from Salida to Cañon City, and from above looking down on the river. The drawings also contain swatches of the high-tech fabric and small topographic maps showing portions of the waterway as it might look embellished with the silver canopies.

Christo was in Denver last week for the exhibition and to update supporters on the status of “Over the River.” About 150 people gathered at the Center for Visual Art to view the gifted works and meet the 77-year-old environmental artist famous for, among other things, “The Gates,” 7,503 panels of golden fabric hung in New York’s Central Park in 2005, and the “Wrapped Reichstag” in Berlin.

“We have this long-standing relationship,” Christo said about his appearance at the Center for Visual Art. “Many years ago they organized a very nice exhibition with Jeanne-Claude and myself ("Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Prints and Objects," an exclusive show in 2008 of 130 works not seen in the United States since 1992).”

The success of that exhibit prompted Christo and Jeanne-Claude to allow the Center for Visual Art to tour the “Prints and Objects” show to raise funds for the center.

Today, Christo is balancing three major works: the “Mastaba,” a permanent sculpture in the United Arab Emirates; the “Big Air Package,” a 295-foot inflated barrel on view in Germany from March 16-Dec. 30, 2013; and “Over the River,” currently stalled pending litigation on the part of citizens’ groups against state and federal agencies that have approved the project.

Not unfamiliar with legislative and bureaucratic barriers (the New York project was conceived in 1979 and realized in 2005 due to opposition and intervening projects), Christo said, “I am not a masochist. Problems are part of the work of art. There is no other ‘Over the River.’ Each project has its own story.”


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