New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Gates

It's 3:41 p.m. on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 and I've just gotten back from a long walk through Central Park with my Esquire friends Kevin and Rob. We were there to check out The Gates, a temporary public art exhibition in which 7,500 orange-framed gates draped with saffron-colored fabric panels line the walkways all through Central Park.

It's beautiful. The bright winter sun shone through the panels as they danced in the breeze. You can watch the saffron flags sway over your head as you walk beneath them, or see them in the outlines of long, snaking paths in the distance, each gate responding to the wind and sun in its own way.

I found the color and the motion of the gates to be their most captivating characteristics. The shade of saffron that Christo and Jeanne Claude used is so unique, I'll probably always associate it with this exhibit. And since the panels are only attached to the frames on top, they give life to every breeze, reminding us of the wind's silent grace.

There's not much color in the park during the winter, so filling the park with color is one thing this project accomplished. It also filled the park with people. Central Park was packed with New Yorkers and people visiting from out of town. Everybody was strolling around, gazing at The Gates, enjoying the weather, taking pictures, and discussing the merits of the project.

Not everybody is a fan. Kevin said he found both beauty and frivolity in The Gates, while Rob thought the effort might have been better spent on other pursuits, as he discusses in his blog. And Tom, who strolled through the park about an hour before we did, said he enjoyed it but would have preferred yellow instead of saffron.

Getting back to the purpose of this blog, which is to discuss the contemporary mindset of New Yorkers as I see it, I can say this: love it or hate it, everybody is talking about The Gates. Everybody has an opinion on it, and in giving voice to those opinions, they think about the purpose and meaning of art, both to themselves and to our city (i.e. to society). It's not that deep, and it doesn't require heavy intellectual analysis, but in deciding whether or not you like The Gates, and whether or not it's a worthy project, people are certainly taking a few steps toward knowing themselves.

Personally, I'm all for it. Seeing The Gates, walking under them, touching them, photographing them (I took a few hundred digital photos) probably didn't change my life in a fundamental way, but I'm certainly left with the feeling that it was worthwhile. I'm glad Central Park is now hosting one of the largest public art projects of our time. I'm happy that it enticed so many people to come to Central Park. I'm proud that New York is still culturally relevant.

And I just like watching the pretty saffron banners wave in the breeze.


Blogger x said...

I like the idea, but every time that Jeanne Claude woman gets on TV to do an interview, I just want to smack her. She's like a cross between that fashion critic with the oversize glasses that does Old Navy commercials, and Zsa Zsa. Painful.

Still - pretty colors.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I look forward to visiting the park with you tomorrow and experiencing it for myself. But you captured it beautifully in your blog. (And while I'm not sure yellow would be any better than saffron for The Gates, it would definitely be a better hair color choice for Jeanne Claude).

8:11 PM  

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