Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Gates (Christo & Jeanne Claude), Central Park, New York, 2005.

I had read about Christo's work (eventually his partner, Jeanne Claude, was recognized as a co-creator), and perused images in art history books, but had never seen one of his huge-scaled works, so I went to some trouble to get to New York to see his (their) much-hyped "The Gates." The work was up for only 16 days, but was many years in the making. One fun fact: 116,389 miles of thread went into the fabric used for the piece. This is the same guy who wrapped the Reichstag, and surrounded several Florida islands in pink fabric. I still have a couple of the one million swatches of orange rip-stop fabric that were handed out in Central Park. If you are interested in the piece, here is the URL for The Gates:

One of the great things about this site-specific piece is watching the way people interact with it. The winter day I was there was mostly sunny, and there were lots of people out in the park. Of all the art works I have seen in nearly 40 years, this one was the most integrated with its audience, and everyone seemed to be delighted by it, or studied it, or apparently ignored it. It was amazing to see how it interacted with the most famous park in the world. 

I used to pretend that I didn't care about celebrities or famous people (that was just not cool), but I finally admitted that I get excited, like most people, when I spot one. And I love to name drop (OK, I'm not cool). Here's a partial list of Famous People I have seen or met:

Seen: Christo & Jeanne Claude (emerging from a limo in Central Park; Jeanne Claude is instantly recognizable for her bright orange hair); the tall blond female cop on Hill Street Blues (in an elevator at the Whitney Museum, Manhattan); A famous male actor whose name I can't recall, on the set of "Mommie Dearest," Manhattan, so I guess it doesn't count; Tea Leoni, on the beach at Nonquitt.
Spoke with briefly: Willem Defoe (very nice), Commes des Garcon store, Chelsea, Manhattan; David Duchovny (polite), on the beach at Nonquitt, South Dartmouth, Massachusetts (I said, "How's the water?" and he said, "Well, it's refreshing."); Betty Carter (at the bar at Lulu White's, Boston; she was lovely, I was tongue-tied). 
Hung out with at their apartment in New York: Hope Davis (who would be my daughter-in-law if I had married my ex-girlfriend) and her husband, the actor John Patrick Walker.
Hung out with in a public place: Clement Greenberg (art critic, party); Dizzy Gillespie (several times; he was a childhood friend of a good friend of mine). 
Interviewed: Dizzy Gillespie; Tal Farlow; Don Pullen; Sam Rivers (in a stair well, Symphony Hall, Springfield, Massachusetts); various famous classical musicians - I'm too lazy to remember all their names.
Rode in a cab with in Manhattan: Clement Greenberg and Sandy Sloane (at the same time!). 
Worked as Assistant Curator with in Boston: Kenworth Moffett.
Hung out with in Toronto: Karen Wilkin; David Mirvish (another story for another time).
Interviewed on an island in New Hampshire: Jules Olitski.
Interviewed and became friends with and received a painting from: Lawrence (formerly Larry) Poons (That's another story for another time).
Hung out with at his Manhattan loft/studio: Michael Steiner. 
Rode in an elevator with and embarrassed myself by saying something really stupid to: Kurt Vonnegut. (We lived in the same apartment building in Northampton, Massachusetts, and, if I'm not mistaken, I owned his futon and cocktail glasses. He was very gracious, if embarrassed.)
Married: Liz Taylor; Brigitte Bardot; Michelle Pfeiffer; Gina Lollobrigida. (Just kidding. About Gina.)
Of course, this list does not include all the famous musicians I've heard perform. And I know this doesn't count, but I almost went to Woodstock. Who knew?
There are so many celebrities, it's hard to remember them all. All those parties!

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