UPDATE: Rachel at Artsy found this post and wrote me requesting a link to Artsy's Christo page. That prompted me to rediscover the post myself, so now I've put it at the top of abandoned old Ambivablog for a while.
Christo's "Gates," whatever you think of them as art, have been an amazing event for New York City. People have been streaming to the city and through the park, their enjoyment of all that surrounds the Gates focused and enhanced by them. What may be most inspired about this work is its ephemerality. Despite all those tons of steel, vinyl, and nylon, it's not a monument, but an experience, like the cherry blossoms in Japan or Washington or the autumn leaves in New England, or the Hajj in Mecca, but even more so, because it happens only once, ever.
An ironic side benefit of "The Gates" for those of us who live in New York is that thanks to the streams of pilgrims in this secular Hajj, we're getting to see old and dear friends who wouldn't come to the city just to see us (humph!), but are here for the Gates. Well, hell. We'll take it. Consider the alternative. (I suppose if we announced that we were only going to be here for two weeks, we'd get a lot of dedicated visitors, too.)
My best high school buddy Margaret and her husband dropped by last night, in town from Philadelphia. (Phil is a superb photographer and made us a gift of the "Gates" photo above.) I think the last time we saw them was at her father's memorial, in January 2004. Before coming to see us, they had visited another friend on Central Park South who has worked with Christo as a publisher on a number of book projects and is a rabid fan. The guy owns many Christo drawings (we learned the fascinating fact last night that Christo and his wife -- who were born on the same day, and had a "100th-birthday party" in 1985 when they both turned 50 -- raise ALL the money for his projects by selling the preliminary drawings), and has even lovingly preserved the postal packaging that Christo once mailed him something in: after all, done up by the artist and addressed in his hand, it's a Christo "wrapping," too!
Tonight or tomorrow morning, we'll get to see another pair of beloved friends, whom we met when they were in the Foreign Service in Romania in the mid- to late '70s, and became close with in the particularly poignant way forged only in the crucible of Communism. They live in Cambridge now, but the last time we saw them was at their son's wedding in seaside Massachusetts, which was in 2002.
So this work of public art has exerted a pull on busy people as strong as their own family weddings and funerals. It's as if Christo's "Gates" were one of those "Star Trek" portals in time, and long-lost friends stepped through.