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Saffron (crocus sativus), when used as a dye, does different things when prepared in different batches. A dye batch done in an iron pot, for instance, will look very different from one done in a copper pot. I don't have a lot of experience in using saffron as a dye, too expensive, but in Thailand, where it is in ordinary use as such, I saw a lot of saffron on the monks who were everywhere, and made their own clothing in some orders. I saw a lot of it because the stuff grows there. In temperate zones, this crocus only comes up in late summer.

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I was beginning to think I should take another walk through The Gates in a different spot to see if I liked them any better, when I was brought up short by a smug sentence in today's NY Times Metropolitan Diary: "Central Park, we agreed, has never looked better."

I think I'll wait a couple of months and see what Mother Nature has to offer.

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My only view of the Gates was after the Stars of the 21st Century gala as we drove toward the Triboro bridge in the rain. My friend was doing the driving so I got to look at the visible parts of the installation as we drove along Central Park West. Because of the rain and wind, some of the drapes were wrapped around the top bar (as often happens to flags left out in the rain) and looked pretty bad.

My friend "did" the walk through the park in the driving rain before the ballet, while I was watching the dress rehearsal, and found it interesting, if not particularly stunning. She said that viewing it from different aspects lets you see either a wall of saffron? pumpkin? tangerine? (definately not terra cotta, peach, canteloupe, salmon, coral or shrimp) or undulating waves. People walked under the drapes with a hushed reverance or awe, she sensed, in contrast to the usual mood in Central Park. Personally (and after going through the obligatory pooh-poohing), I think it was a nice diversion for February.

I don't know if the "emporer has no clothes" analogy is quite apt, despite the clever political cartoon in the New York Post that week (or was it the Daily News?) because in the emporer's tale everyone was too afraid to speak out and we have no end to opinions pro and con on this thread or in the media!

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Well--the artistic side of the venture escaped me :wub: 

I've only seen photos, and I'm open to persuasion, but for now I have to agree. The project sounds like great fun for the Christos and their helpers, and no doubt it's a kick for many New Yorkers as well. But if that's art, as in fine art, then what's a Cezanne? If I wrap Peter Boal and Maria Kowroski in orange and get them to dance the pas de deux for Apollo and Terpsichore, can I call myself a choreographer? The Gates are only "beautiful" because the park is beautiful.

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The Gates are only "beautiful" because the park is beautiful.

Wow, just like nail soup!

One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows a couple of people on one of the pedestrian bridges looking out over the park, and if I'm remembering this correctly, the caption is "Hail to Thee, Frederick Law Olmstead!"

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I don't think anyone has posted this yet (apologies if I missed it) but Tom Phillips wrote about this on DanceView Times today, as a dance event.

Invitation to the Dance


I've read this thread with great interest -- I think it's the kind of discussion Christo would like to happen. Whatever your opinion, people are talking about it, and for the artist, that's good. And maybe people will look at the park differently? (Or maybe not.)

In one of the TV interviews leading up to The Unwrapping, Jeanne-Claude told a story of two reactions to another project they'd done, this one in Hot Pink. "It's horrible! It looks just like a big bottle of Pepto-Bismol," complained one person. "It's beautiful! It looks just like a big bottle of Pepto-Bismol," exulted another.

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from the Tom Phillips article:

..."With the wind at your back on a blustery day, the saffron fabrics feel like sails straining ahead, pulling you forward. Going into the wind they can be the wings of a mother hen, gathering in her chicks."

The above reflects another effect my friend mentioned, since she walked through the gates on a blustery day. When walking with the wind, she felt blown through the gates, hastened along by the flapping drapes; when walking against it, it was like an invitation to enter the orange world.

Now I wish I had been able to stay in New York longer!

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Just one more comment about the color, I promise :rolleyes:

I went to my local Macy' s this morning and walked through the new Spring line of clothes---suits, coats, jackets, sweaters, blouses, pants were all aglow in Saffron? Pumpkin? Orange?---only the color was variously identified as Coral--Pimento--and Fire. :wub: Cristo may be able to recoup some of his money by turning the shades into dresses.

In a more restrained tone: I would not want to see the gates in MY park. The Park I walk in almost every day (I recall reading somewhere that it was designed by Olmstead) is b eautiful and serene, especially now with the frozen ponds and white snowy hilltops and and the black branches of the trees. The Gates are an intrusion of public space---and the Park should not be violated for someone's artistic interest. Buy your own Park.

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With the 5 inch snowfall in the park last night the Gates were like orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream today!

Regarding the color did you notice that Jean-Claude has orange hair a similar color? I happened to see her and Christo in the park on 10 February just before they got in a Limo, when I saw her hair I thought she was possibly the inspiration for the Gate color. She has had that color for a long time apparently.

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One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows a couple of people on one of the pedestrian bridges looking out over the park, and if I'm remembering this correctly, the caption is "Hail to Thee, Frederick Law Olmstead!"

Well that made me think, thank you. Olmsted and Christo both transformed the space, but I wonder if we can't roughly measure the relative value of their transformations by comparing how long Olmsted's work has continued to delight with how long even the most enraptured Christo fans would want the Gates to remain.

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That's great Kathleen! Mini-Gates! I wonder WHO it was that actually engineered the Gates and decided they needed 7500 "weighing 5,290 US Tons of steel (4,799 Metric Tons) (10,580,000 pounds) (equal to 2/3 the steel in the Eiffel Tower)."

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...Cristo may be able to recoup some of his money by turning the shades into dresses.
That was only one of the ideas offered up in Canada's Globe and Mail a few days ago. From bed sheets for the poor :ermm: and emergency clothing for disaster relief :thanks: to dew collectors :wacko:, life jackets for Third World countries :wub:, and ground cover for Yankee Stadium :yucky:, there is no end to people's (questionable) creativity as they imagine the post-exhibit uses of the cooked buttery sweet potato {Notice I did not say saffron! :wink: } coloured swaths of fabric!

Recycling ideas for Christo's Gates :rofl:

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What bothers me is reading that the stuff is nylon. Part of the original contract with the city was that all remnants of the installation were to be biodegradable, and nylon will be that as long as you give it, say, 200,000 years. Has anyone ever read Motel of the Mysteries which is an interpretation of an archaeological dig which uncovers a motel and interprets the whole thing as a religious shrine? It's funny.

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Regarding the orange of the Gates, here is Hal Foster in the latest issue of the London Review of Books:

Yet the hue was off, at least to my eyes: the light orange was too close to both the bleached green of the grass and the smoky grey of the trees to make for a vivid contrast. Sometimes the banners did catch the light or the breeze to flow like veils or shimmer like kites, but often the nylon hung rather dull and limp like big tarps or giant laundry. Red would have been better, or black or white, but all these colours have political associations, and everything about The Gates was dictated by an assiduous avoidance of any such significance. It’s easy to understand why: Christo and Jeanne-Claude first petitioned to do the piece in 1979 but acquired the permit only in 2003 (their lawyers might be considered co-authors as well). Perhaps as a result, the colour, the materials, the very design are bland, stripped of any edge. It was quite a feat to set up so many gates in America today and not prompt any reference to security checks and immigration outrages. But no colour is entirely without association. ‘It’s the orange of police cones,’ my wife said as we entered the park; ‘it looks like a Princeton reunion run amok.’ Princeton’s ‘school colour’ is taken from William of Orange, and if this work were placed in Belfast, a civil war would break out; even in this city in another time The Gates might have turned into ‘The Gangs of New York’.

Foster also gives some backgound on Christo's borrowings from avant garde ideas of the 1920's.

London Review of Books

As a footnote let me add that when I used to work in Central Park, we used to dread events like this because of the stress on the park, at least in summer. When Pocahontas was premiered, Disney requested that the branches of old trees be cut at a straight line to facilitate projection of "the show." The arborists, bless their hearts, refused.

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Has anyone ever read Motel of the Mysteries which is an interpretation of an archaeological dig which uncovers a motel and interprets the whole thing as a religious shrine?  It's funny.

I love all of David Macaulay's work, but this one is special -- I particularly love the gradual change in the archaeologists, so that when one of them decides to actually use the relics from the motel in a ritual, there's real tenderness in it.

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I thought I was the only one who read Motel of the Mysteries! It was given to me by someone with a wacky sense of humor who haunts used book shops. The illustrations are amazingly complex.

I went to see the Gates last Wednesday, and I enjoyed the spectacle. On a sunny day, with bright blue sky and the wind blowing, the saffron color and relative stiffness of the fabric made the Gates seem festive and flag-like. The effect of the Gates on my perception of hills and curved paths was rather dramatic - I was seeing things about the park that I do not normally "see." The color really is NOT orange, to my eyes. It has virtually no red to it. Throngs of people filled every section of the park, and the vast majority of them were smiling, and interested. Not many works of "art" (however it can be defined) have that effect any more.

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Guest nycdog

The New York Times investigates the true cost of 'The Gates...'


"Approached by a reporter who offered his hand in greeting, Christo hesitated before slowly reciprocating with a gloved hand, palm down, in the manner of royalty. Asked how he calculated the total cost of the project, Christo's eyes narrowed and he stepped back, waving his hand dismissively.

"How do you calculate 26 years of meetings, negotiations, planning, design?" he said."

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