6 Miles Of Silver Ribbon: Locals Protest Christo
Bighorn Sheep Canyon in Colorado holds a chuckling ribbon of water, with a highway running alongside. Artist Christo wants to drape sections of it — almost 6 miles’ worth — with long, billowing panels of silvery fabric.
“The silver-color fabric panel will absorb the color,” he says. “In the morning, it will become rosy, in the middle of the day, platinum, and [during] the sunset, the fabric will become golden.”
Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, are famous for works measured in miles: pathways of flapping, flame-colored gates in Central Park, thousands of umbrellas scattered along the coasts of California and Japan. For many locals, however, Christo’s artistic vision for the Arkansas River feels more like a nightmare.
It has been 16 years since the Bulgarian-born artist picked Bighorn Canyon for this piece, called Over the River. It has taken that long to slowly accumulate the needed permits and permissions, a process financed by selling preparatory sketches. “All that is part of the work of art,” Christo told a panel of county commissioners earlier this month.
“The work of art involves everything. People who dislike or like the project, they’re part of the work of art,” he said.
Ellen Bauder disagrees. “I don’t particularly consider it an art project. This is a construction project in my view,” she says. Bauder is a leading member of a group called Rags Over the Arkansas River, or ROAR, which opposes the project.
Evidence of ROAR’s fight is everywhere in Bauder’s home office, with Over the River files scattered across the floor and boxes of media clippings in the corner.