Internationally renowned artist Christo to speak at CU Oct. 17

Published: Oct. 8, 2013

Christo, an internationally renowned artist, will discuss "Over the River," which is a monumental artwork that involves suspending fabric panels above the Arkansas River between Salida and Cañon City in south-central Colorado, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, in the University Memorial Center Glenn Miller Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

"Over The River" is planned as a two-week temporary work of art by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who was married to Christo and collaborated with him for 40 years before passing away in 2009. The project calls for suspending 5.9 miles of silvery, luminous fabric panels along designated sections of a 42-mile stretch of the river.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude conceived the project in 1992. They searched the Rocky Mountain region and evaluated 89 rivers in seven states for an appropriate site before selecting the Arkansas River after a tour of six finalist locations in the summer of 1996.

While the Bureau of Land Management has given Christo the necessary federal permit to build the project and it has been approved by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Board and other state and local regulatory bodies, the project has been delayed by lawsuits in state and federal courts. One appeal with the Department of the Interior was recently decided in BLM's favor and a recent state court decision upheld the Colorado State Parks permit for "Over The River." A third suit in federal court challenges the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of the project. ROAR claims the project poses environmental, safety, traffic and economic risks.

Christo's lecture is supported by the CU ATLAS Institute's Speaker Series, the Department of Art & Art History Visiting Artist Program, the Center of the American West and the CU Art Museum.

Don Grusin, a Grammy Award winning composer and pianist who has taught a series of multidisciplinary ATLAS Institute courses – most recently a course about Bureau of Land Management issues in collaboration with the Center of the American West – is exploring the creation of a course related to "Over the River." The course would bring together students from a variety of disciplines across campus to examine how Christo and Jeanne-Claude have transformed the concept of “public art” through close study of "Over the River," taking into consideration the potential impacts of the project on the society, politics, economy and environment of the area.

Christo's lecture also will include a discussion of The Mastaba, a project for Abu Dhabi that was first conceived in 1977. It will be the largest sculpture in the world, made from 410,000 multi-colored barrels to form a mosaic of bright sparkling colors, echoing Islamic architecture. If realized, it will be Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s only permanent large-scale work.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's past works include The Gates in NYC's Central Park and the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin and the Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris.

Photo by Wolfgang Volz © 2011 Christo.