The battle carries on as world-famous artist Christo fights for approval to construct a temporary work of art that will suspend 5.9 miles of silvery, luminous fabric panels high above the Arkansas River, along a 42-mile stretch between Salida and Cañon City in south-central Colorado. Over the River has been on the drawing boards for 20 years now, with over $7 million of Christo’s money invested into it with environmental studies, mock-ups, surveys from the air and wind tests.
In November, Christo received approval from the federal Bureau of Land Management, which owns 98 percent of the riverfront. This was a huge step forward in the project and now only a few more local permit approvals are standing in the way.
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Supporters and opponents gathered at the final public hearings earlier this month fighting for officials to consider their input on the temporary permit. Opponents fear that the $50 million project, entirely paid for by the artist, will disrupt the pristine landscape and cause dangerous traffic within the winding canyon.
Christo’s team has promised ambulances and helicopters on standby incase of an emergency during the exhibition, along with more than 20 Colorado State Troopers enforcing a no-stopping rule.
“We are fearful of impeding our way of life on a day-to-day basis for years to come. We are fearful for the wildlife and sanctuary that we enjoy,” Opponent Thomas Kainz of Howard said. “Most importantly, fearful that we are faced with yet another case where someone with deep pockets and political connections gets their way like some spoiled child. Mr. Christo may see this as some wild juxtaposition between the line of fabric in the surrounding nature over the roaring river, but to me, I see it as a bastardization of the beautifully pristine, quiet countryside that I and many, many others choose to live in.”
If the proposal is approved, construction will begin this Summer and Christo will exhibit Over the River for two consecutive weeks in August, 2014, at the earliest.
Learn more about the project here on ArchDaily and read about three interesting perspectives on “Rinaldi: Understanding artist Christo’s work demands a view with multiple voices” by the Denver Post.