Monday, December 5, 2011

Christo and Jeanne-Claude “Over the River” Project – Approved to Stretch Across Arkansas River

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Bureau of Land Management announced Monday that it had released a Record of Decision approving Christo’s “Over The River,” a temporary art installation. The giant project has encountered serious and organized local resistance but the artist has mitigated several threats to Colorado wildlife.
Controversial artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude – known for making large-scale architectural interventions in urban and rural environments – have finally gotten approval from the Bureau of Land Management to construct their most recent project “Over the River”, which will stretch along 5.9 miles of silvery, luminous fabric panels to be suspended high above the Arkansas River along a 42-mile stretch of the river between Salida and Cañon City in south-central Colorado. 
The site was selected based on the consideration that “in the USA, most of the rivers are born in the Rocky Mountains” (Christo and Jeanne-Claude).  It was to have high bank walls, waters used for rafting, and a road running alongside it – presumably to make the installation visually accessible from a many perspectives, chanced upon or planned visits.
Fabric panels will be suspended at eight distinct areas of the river that were selected by the artists for their aesthetic merits and technical viability.
This proposed temporary work of art is currently undergoing a permitting process through the Bureau of Land Management. Assuming the approval process runs as planned, Over The River will be exhibited for two consecutive weeks in August, 2014.
Through the sale of his original works of art, Christo funds 100-percent of costs associated with the permitting process, manufacturing, installation and removal of Over The River. This includes all direct expenses to create the temporary work of art, as well as costs that result from it (e.g. environmental analysis, traffic control, trash removal and sanitation).  
The temporary work of art will be created without public subsidy or taxpayer support, because Christo and Jeanne-Claude have never accepted viewing fees, sponsorships or outside investments of any kind.
The idea for “Over the River” has been in development for several years – site selection began in the mid-90s – but concerns over the potential environmental impacts have delayed its realization.
Although BLM ultimately approved the project, which began in 2009, the Colorado Wildlife Commission and the Division of Parks and Wildlife cited the adverse effects that the 5.9 miles of fabric would have on the wildlife around the river, according to a New York Times article by Kirk Johnson. 
The construction of the project will include 100 measures to mitigate any impacts on wildlife, traffic or safety during the installation and exhibition of the work.  If all goes as planned, construction will begin in the Summer of 2012, and will be on display for two consecutive weeks in August 2014.
Initially, the project was conceived by the authors and those who supported them, as profitable investment in the development of tourism in the region. Artists have already spent $ 7 million to develop. 
But the idea provoked a storm of protest public organizations and individual citizens. Private Bureau of Land Management has conducted four public meetings to discuss the project "The river". Attended by hundreds of people, most of whom showed their doubts about the advisability zaveshivaniya river. 
This is akin to "pornographic posters in the church" or "cosmetics on the face of the child" - such the views expressed by ordinary citizens. Environmental organizations are also opposed, because the project will require drill 9,000 holes on the Arkansas River. 
In the general uproar of protest such as the lost voice of support from local art institutions, such as the Aspen Museum of Art. Its director, Heidi Tsukkerman Jacobson (Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson) calls the "Across the river" a unique opportunity, which would be a shame to miss. In addition, the draft if he will be the last joint work of Christ and Jeanne-Claude, who died last year . 

The project’s hefty environmental impact study showed that threats to native wildlife were many and complex. The huge steel cables required to hang the fabric would stretch from bank to bank, for instance, requiring heavy construction to install. 
Several mitigation measures were required to protect bighorn sheep, which live and breed in the canyon (hence the name), including construction restrictions from April 15 to June 30 every year. 
Also, OTR agreed to build habitat improvements and water developments to allow the sheep access to water and new habitat, and to create a fund that would continue to look after the sheep for years after the project is dismantled.
Migratory birds and eagles also required modifications to the project. The large cables will be festooned with “avian diverters,” which are colorful sleeves meant to give the birds visual evidence of the cable, for as long as they hang over the valley.
“We’ve heard a lot about traffic and about the bighorn sheep,” said Brown, speaking about the issues encountered by the project. “Those were the two major ones. But working with those cooperating agencies, I think we came up with some good mitigation measures to alleviate those problems.”

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