Christo’s Colorado Project Is Finally Approved


Federal land regulators Monday approved artist Christo’s long-running proposal for an installation along the Arkansas River in Colorado.

The project, Over the River, was originally drawn up in 1992 in collaboration with the artist’s late wife and creative partner, Jeanne-Claude. Plans entail suspending eight panels of silvery, translucent fabric, totaling 5.9 miles, above a 42-mile stretch of the river. It will be displayed for two weeks in August 2014.

Christo’s vision encountered serious hurdles. The Colorado Wildlife Commission strongly opposed authorization for fear of disrupting the local wildlife, especially that of Colorado’s official state mammal, the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Other concerns included the safety of the area’s mountain roads during construction.

An environmental impact statement, running hundreds of pages long, affirms minimal strain on the area. Interior secretary Ken Salazar assures, “We believe that steps have been taken to mitigate the environment effects of this one-of-a-kind project.”

Federal officials estimate that Over the River could potentially draw 400,000 visitors during the two-week exhibition, as well as throughout the project’s construction, eventually generating $121 million in economic output.

“We are elated,” Christo said in a statement from New York. “Every artist in the world likes his or her work to make people think. Imagine how many people were thinking, how many professionals were thinking and writing in preparing that environmental impact statement. We have a work of art that does not exist [yielding] a 1,686-page book.”

The Bureau of Land Management’s announcement came a day before Christo donated two preparatory collages of the project to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The pieces will join the gallery’s 80 other works by the duo.

Christo’s resume includes 1995’s untitled wrapping of the Reichstag Parliament Building in Berlin and New York City’s wildly popular Central Park project, The Gates, in 2005.