When are the Gates coming down? I am just now finding interested persons to drive to see the Gates!
When are the Gates coming down? I am just now finding interested persons to drive to see the Gates!
They will begin to dismantle on Monday morning 2/28/05.Originally Posted by AmeriKenArtist
Thanks! My friends are free Monday. Ahhh, too late......
February 27, 2005
3 Arrested in 'Gates' Vandalism
By MICHAEL BRICK
fter two weeks of constant display, charming its visitors with a sense of unfolding ambiguity, "The Gates" left the city one last gift yesterday in the form of an answer to this question: Is it possible to guard 7,503 outsize orange drapes spread across 23 miles of Central Park day and night?
And the answer is: no, with an asterisk.
"The Gates" were vandalized with markers, but three New Jersey men were quickly arrested, hence the asterisk. The speed of the proceedings might have had something to do with the suspects writing their own names on four gates, according to the police.
At about 1:30 yesterday morning, officers came across the three men, Gregory Giarnitta, 19, of Parsippany; John Leonard, 20, of Hackettstown; and David Jones, 19, of Minehill, and issued them summonses for being in the park half an hour after its closing time, the police said.
Later, officers discovered that four gates had names scrawled on them. And the names were familiar - the three men who had just been given tickets, the police said.
Officers looked around the park, but the men had already gone home to New Jersey, a police official said. The police called the men and told them to return to Central Park, to the 22nd Precinct station house, where they were arrested and charged with making graffiti, criminal mischief and possession of a graffiti instrument, though no markers were recovered, a police official said.
Megan Sheekey, a spokeswoman for the parks department, said the damage to the four gates, which are bound for recycling, was easily fixed.
"It was just marker, and it's on vinyl, so you can just wipe it off," Ms. Sheekey said.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
February 28, 2005
A Last Look at 'The Gates' Before They All Come Down
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON
"The Gates" near the Seventh Avenue entrance on Central Park South. Sunday was the 16th and final day for the project of 7,500 gates on 23 miles of Central Park paths.
ontrary to some reports, Jeanne-Claude's hair is actually a few shades darker than the Sunkist orange - er, saffron - of the million square feet of fabric hanging from "The Gates" in Central Park. It's more the color of carrot cake.
Still, she is unmistakable in a crowd. On a Sunday morning stroll through the art project in the park that she and her husband, Christo, designed, she could barely walk a few feet without attracting a horde of jacket-swaddled tourists.
"Why are you taking pictures of me?" Jeanne-Claude barked. "Turn around; look at the gates! I see only coats! I want to see gates!"
Art is long, and life is short, and city contracts are even shorter. The dismantling of the 7,500 gates was to start first thing today, and, Jeanne-Claude said, in keeping with her and Christo's agreement with the city, it all has to be gone by March 15. That schedule is fine with her. February was the only month the project would work, she said, when the trees are leafless and row upon row of color can be seen in every direction.
The dismantling will be easier than the installation because there will not be any need to be careful. The 5,290 tons of steel will be melted down and recycled - "The aluminum is going to become cans of soda," Jeanne-Claude says - and the fabric will be shredded and turned into carpet padding. Then all that will be left of "The Gates" will be the memories, and the T-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, watches and baseball caps.
There will also be the coffee table book, as there is for most of their projects. Christo spent yesterday morning with Wolfgang Volz, the photographer, gathering pictures for the book.
Jeanne-Claude laughed, imitating her husband's orders to Mr. Volz: " 'I want that tree and that tree, but not that one,' " she said.
It was a bright sunny morning, but cold, and the park was crowded, considering the weather. There were the usual joggers, cyclists and Chinese wedding ceremonies, but also, of course, the New Yorkers and tourists coming for a first or last look.
Everywhere she walked, Jeanne-Claude was followed by a constant stream of thank yous and butchered mercis. She smiled back, but would not sign autographs and stopped for photographs only grudgingly. In a whisper, she explained that the gratitude was misplaced. The whole project, all $21 million of it, was of, by and for themselves, Jeanne-Claude and Christo. If the public happened to like it, well, that was a bonus. Any artist would tell you the same, she said.
So there is no weeping on her part for the end of "The Gates." It was a project that took the couple 26 years, sure, but as of Feb. 12, the day the gates were unfurled, the creativity was over. Then their days were filled with maintenance problems, sanitation issues, tours through the park with out-of-town visitors. Every day was packed, from 5 a.m., when they woke up, to that glass of Scotch before bed 20 hours later.
Now it is on to the next project: a plan to suspend several miles of fabric panels across the Arkansas River in Colorado. She began explaining, but broke off after a couple of sentences.
"Look at that over there," she said, pointing to a place where the fabric had turned peach in the glow of the afternoon sunshine, "and look over there," she said, pointing to a panel veined with the shadows of a tree. "They are two completely different colors." Out came her camera.
After a brief stroll on the edge of the Sheep Meadow, Jeanne-Claude returned to the car, a Mercedes Maybach on loan for a few weeks from DaimlerChrysler. She said she originally laughed at the idea of the Maybach - "We don't even own a bicycle" - but she clearly cannot get enough of the car.
Out of a side-door compartment, she fished a saffron-colored Band-Aid tin, and from the tin snatched a cigarette. An assistant came to the window with a report: Someone had cut hearts out of the fabric in four gates. It's always something; a few minutes earlier she pointed out a brand new gate, a replacement for the one that was hit by a taxicab. Was there much vandalism?
"Vandalism?" she repeated. "Cutting out hearts? It annoys us, but I can't call that vandalism."
Suddenly the door opened, and Christo tumbled into the back seat. Before the door closed, he was debating whether they had time to eat lunch, since it was the last day Mr. Volz could take pictures and had much more to do.
"We always eat in 12 minutes," Jeanne-Claude said.
"To the boathouse, quick, quick," Christo said to the driver.
During the ride to the boathouse, Christo and Jeanne-Claude constantly talked over each other, pointing in a hundred different directions: look at the colors over there, look how the shadows of the branches fall here, look how the wind plays with the fabric.
Like his wife, Christo said he was not bothered by the closing of "The Gates." That's what creating is all about, he said. You want to move on to the next thing.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
March 1, 2005
Some Sadder Than Others As First 'Gates' Start Falling
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
About 20 teams of workers began dismantling "The Gates" Monday morning in Central Park.
he Gates" began to close yesterday, as slowly and surely as they began to open about three weeks ago, when the first orange nylon frames were hoisted into place along the pathways of Central Park.
Yesterday morning, under gray skies, about 20 teams of workers fanned out across the park's northern border, near the Harlem Meers, to begin dismantling the 7,500 gates that together composed the artwork. They moved quickly and smoothly, loosening the bolts that held each frame to its steel base, easing the gates down toward the ground, and wrapping the nylon-thread curtains around the crossbars.
"I don't feel emotional about it," said Alex Lockwood, as his team helped remove the gates mounted on a stretch of stairs near the ice-skating rink. "Putting it up and taking it down was just a job."
But some visitors waxed more sentimental.
"I wish it could stay up forever," said Michael Davis, who lives on the Upper West Side and went to the park on his day off to see the installation one last time, his fifth visit. Bundled up against the cold and impending snow, Mr. Davis ambled along the curving paths as if it were a warm, sunny day in May, gazing adoringly at the threads of orange lacing the rise across the pond and taking pictures in the gray light.
"He did New Yorkers a great favor by getting us all outdoors and on our best behavior," Mr. Davis said, referring to the artist Christo, who with his wife, Jeanne-Claude, designed the project. "The whole thing was like pop in the best sense - almost frivolous, but not quite. People on Sunday were walking around with these happy, idiot smiles, like we were all let out from the institution for lunch."
Officials at the city's Department of Parks and Recreation said that more than one million people had visited "The Gates" during its 16-day run. (The individual gates themselves actually began going up on Feb. 7, before the exhibit's official opening, and will be taken down in roughly the same order they were installed, so that "the gates each have about the same lifespan," said Megan Sheekey, a city spokeswoman for the project.)
Among those who seemed especially sad to see the exhibit go were the merchants and vendors around the park, many of whom saw a spike in business because of the exhibit.
"It was crazy over the weekend," said Launa Buffong, who works the register at the Make My Cake bakery on the corner of Lenox Avenue and Central Park North. On Sunday, she said, lines of visitors - including tourists from Chicago, Washington and Maine - were lining up all the way out the front door to get a cup of coffee or a chocolate cupcake.
"The gates were a beautiful color," she said wistfully. "They made the park a lot livelier."
Still, New Yorkers can be tough critics. Kimberly Cruz and her friend Cheri Eaddy, both students at Central Park East high school, looked over the Harlem Meers with cold, appraising eyes.
"Personally, I don't like them," said Kimberly, waving a hand at the curtains flapping nearby in the wind. "And they put them in awkward places. Like, lots of them bunched up in one place, and then none of them in another place."
She paused, then added: "I don't have the artist's eye, I guess. The orange is just not working."
Jeneane Schmidt and Anthony Pick walked through the park's southern end yesterday despite the intensifying snowstorm, eager for one last look. "We've seen it in bright sunlight, in rain, and now in the driving snow," Ms. Schmidt said. "This was great. No crowds. Everyone thought it was over."
Mr. Pick said he had meant to bring a camera, realized on the way to the park that he had forgotten it, and then decided that his oversight was for the best.
"It's a temporal thing," he said. "It's not supposed to be recorded."
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
I can't believe they are coming down already. I wish they'd be up longer. It seems sort of silly for them to be up for such a short ammount of time.
'The Gates' give city economic boom
The Associated Press
March 3, 2005, 12:15 PM EST
The art installation "The Gates" created an economic boom similar to the Christmas season, with the city discovering a $254 million economic boost tucked beneath the saffron fabric decorating Central Park, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday.
Hot dog vendors, horse-drawn carriage drivers and restaurateurs joined Bloomberg in praising the ripples of cash created by the billowing $21 million public art project, which didn't cost the city a penny to create.
"We had to do a big, bold project that would set our city apart," Bloomberg told a news conference at Mickey Mantle's restaurant on Central Park South. "We showed the world that New York is safe and exciting."
The city estimated that "The Gates" drew an estimated 4 million visitors to Central Park, including 1.5 million out-of-towners, between Feb. 12-27. In midtown, hotel occupancy was 87 percent over that period compared to 73 percent last February; overall, the project generated $254 million in economic activity.
"It was like Christmas out there," said Paul Harvey, a carriage driver who benefited from the increased traffic. "Two weeks of Christmas."
Bill Liederman, the owner of Mickey Mantle's, said his restaurant was serving 1,000 customers on weekend days -- a figure more in line with the holiday season than the doldrums of February.
It wasn't just high-end places that saw an increase in business.
Hot dog vendor Pradit Das, of Queens, said he was peddling 500 hot dogs and just as many pretzels each day from his spot near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
But Bloomberg said "the real economic benefit of this is the publicity." And he noted that many of the 7,503 gates will be still standing in the park, giving visitors another chance to check out "The Gates" this weekend.
Queens College to get $1M from Gates sales
By Cynthia Koons
Most people know by now that Christo and Jeanne-Claude accepted no financial sponsorship in the production of The Gates in Central Park.
But few know that proceeds from the T-shirts, hats, maps, posters, key chains and magnets sold in Central Park did turn a profit for the artists, who in turn allowed Queens College to use that money for its new environmental institute.
Nurture New York's Nature, a non-profit founded by New York's famous labor mediator Theodore Kheel, was given the sole license to sell Gates memorabilia in the park as long as the proceeds went to promote environmental and artistic awareness citywide.
The foundation for the relationship between the institute and the artists began 25 years ago when Christo and Jeanne-Claude needed an attorney to represent them when they first proposed The Gates project to the city under then-Mayor Edward Koch's administration.
So they turned to the mediator known for having brokered deals in some of the most famous transit, longshoreman and newspaper labor disputes of the 1960s and 1970s: Thedore Kheel.
"They came to him in 1979 and they asked him to represent them in getting permission for The Gates project in Central Park. There were a number of hearings and it was turned down in 1980," said Jake Kheel, the attorney's great nephew, who is a project director for Nurture New York's Nature. "It took 25 years, but eventually they found a mayor who was favorable to the project in Bloomberg. He has represented them as their lawyer in New York City for that whole time."
Theodore Kheel, now pushing 90, founded the non-profit Nurture New York's Nature last year in order to accept a license from Christo and Jeanne-Claude that would give the organization the right to collect proceeds from The Gates memorabilia sales. That money would be chanelled through the non-profit into The Institute to Nurture New York's Nature at Queens College.
The Gates, a 16-day public art project which came down Sunday, brought 7,500 16-feet-high saffron-colored curtains to 23 miles of pathways in Central Park. The artists are known for using fabric to wrap and surround public buildings, bridges and parks in countries including Japan, France, Germany and the U.S. for environmental art installations. The artists fund their projects entirely through the sale of Christo's preparatory sketches.
Because they do not promote their work through T-shirt, hat and poster sales as other artists do, they decided to allow Theodore Kheel to oversee the licensing of product sales in order to fund Nurture New York's Nature. "They stipulated in the license that we had to spend everything we raised on projects that benefitted the arts and environment in New York City," Jake Kheel said.
First the Kheels commissioned an author to write a book about the habitat of New York City. From there, a City University of New York course about New York's environment was created, which made way for the eventual creation of the Institute to Nurture New York's Nature.
In November, CUNY announced the formation of the institute, which will be housed in its school at Queens College. Theodore Kheel made a $1 million contribution to the institute at that time, some of which came from the Christo foundation.
A spokeswoman for Queens College, Maria Matteo, said a director for the institute will be in place and the first installment of money will be allocated by the end of the semester.
"When they gave us the license, it wasn't to go and have a good time," said Jake Kheel. "Well, we're having a good time too, but ... they insisted that we promote the arts and its relation to the environment as well."
Kheel said the non-profit issued licenses to the Central Park Conservancy to sell memorabilia, Herm�s to create a Gates-ins-pired scarf and The Metropolitan Museum of Art to make handbags and a poster. The proceeds will be split between the vendors and Nurture New York's Nature.
Exactly how much Nurture New York's Nature made from The Gates product licensing still has yet to be determined.
"We have so many deals out with so many people who are selling (products)," Jake Kheel said Monday. "The project just ended yesterday. It's been chaos around here."
Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.
March 5, 2005
Enough About 'Gates' as Art; Let's Talk About That Price Tag
By MIKE McINTIRE
Workers in Central Park began to dismantle "The Gates" on Monday and loaded the pieces onto trucks.
ne million square feet of nylon fabric. Five thousand tons of steel. Sixty miles of vinyl tubing. Lots of nuts and bolts.
And a $21 million price tag.
Along with the lofty questions posed by "The Gates" (Is it art? What is art? And haven't we heard enough of this project?), another query has flitted through the minds of some visitors to Central Park in recent weeks. How did the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude manage to spend that much money on their tangerine dream?
To pose the question out loud smacks of ingratitude, particularly given what is widely viewed as the project's benefit to the city: drawing thousands of foreign tourists and pumping an estimated $254 million into New York's economy. And the artists have paid for the project entirely on their own, using no public or corporate money, and therefore do not need to justify their expenses. They financed "The Gates" by selling other pieces of their own artwork, which their associates say increased in value over the past year as anticipation for the Central Park project grew.
On the other hand, it is that unique financing system, of relying on the promise of "The Gates" to maximize the profits needed to pay its $21 million bill, that poses the question of how the bill was determined. And while Christo and Jeanne-Claude have freely volunteered the project's high cost, they steadfastly refuse to explain how they came to that figure.
Despite their reticence, or perhaps because of it, the question has taken root in the usual places. On the Internet, bloggers have calculated the probable prices of extruded vinyl and rip-stop nylon, but have come up millions of dollars short. Journalists have pestered the artists' representatives to break down the costs, to no avail.
A New York filmmaker who dared to dissect the $21 million figure on his Web site was savaged in an anonymous e-mail message, which included a suspiciously European-sounding putdown: "You ridiculous apprentice of nothing!"
Searching for anything that would explain the project's costs, a New York Times reporter set out on a quest that included visits to drab municipal offices, calls to zipper-mouthed contractors and a climactic confrontation with Christo in Central Park. In the end, it appears that at least some of the grand price tag for "The Gates" may be as conceptual as the work itself, and the effort to assess its cost ultimately proved futile, particularly given the vagaries of the marketplace and the singularity of such an artistic enterprise.
"Considering that this work of art went on for over 26 years, it would be difficult to itemize every aspect of design, planning and other expenses associated with it," said Jonita Davenport, the project director for "The Gates." Of the $21 million estimate, which the artists put forth shortly before the project was completed, she said, "This is the best-guess estimate that they've decided to release."
The first stop was the city Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees Central Park. Megan Sheekey, a spokeswoman there, said that the city never asked for details of what Christo and Jeanne-Claude spent, and that the artists had made clear they did not want to divulge that information.
"I know that with public projects, you're used to getting it," Ms. Sheekey said. "But this was paid for with private money, so..."
The department did have a 50-page "art installation agreement" that provided a few clues about costs. It showed, for example, that the artists agreed to donate $3 million to the Central Park Conservancy, and pay $70,000 to the city for park patrols and up to $250,000 for incidental expenses. They also obtained a $1 million letter of credit from Deutsche Bank to cover cleanup costs and purchased liability and workers' compensation insurance policies.
What about those insurance policies? Scott Hodes, a Chicago lawyer who has represented Christo and Jeanne-Claude for 40 years, said insurance was "a factor, but certainly not a material factor" in the total cost of the project. He said he did not know how the $21 million figure was determined, but that it probably reflected expenses dating back to 1979, when the artists first proposed "The Gates."
"A lot of people are asking the same question that you are," Mr. Hodes said. "That number has been bandied about, and I suspect the actual number is somewhere in that range, I would guess."
Useful as it was, the parks department paperwork shed no light on construction costs. For "The Gates," the artists and their project managers, the husband-and-wife team of Vince and Jonita Davenport, mostly used manufacturers in the Northeastern United States to save money on trucking, although the nylon fabric was woven at a factory in Germany. The companies involved would not disclose cost information.
Another approach was tried. What if a general contractor not involved in the project was given the specifications and asked to provide a quote?
Calls to a half-dozen New York area contractors found none willing to take the plunge. Typical was the response of an executive at Regele Builders in Manhattan.
"You want an estimate for what?" she said.
Fortunately, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have provided a detailed list of ingredients for "The Gates." Certain materials - the steel footings, vinyl frames and nylon panels - are easier to put a price on than others.
Based on wholesale prices during the last two years and depending on when it was purchased, 5,290 tons of steel - equal to two-thirds the amount used in the Eiffel Tower - could have cost between $2 million and $5 million.
The hollow vinyl frames were essentially the same material used for fence posts. The retail cost - usually much higher than wholesale - of 5-inch square vinyl fence post is about $2.50 per foot, or $790,000 for the amount used in "The Gates."
The rip-stop nylon is a little more complicated to calculate, but several wholesalers would sell the basic material for between $500,000 and $1 million, although it would still need to be sewed together.
None of these back-of-the-napkin numbers include the cost of fabrication; labor to deliver, store and assemble the finished products; smaller components, like aluminum corner reinforcements, leveling plates and 165,000 nuts and bolts; and engineering and materials testing.
Greg Allen, an art collector and former private equity investor in New York who says he has an early work of Christo's, did his own analysis of "The Gates," which he posted on a Web log he operates.
He estimated that the fabrication, labor and ancillary materials, together, cost a little more than $3 million, and he said he had a hard time believing that the total project cost exceeded $10 million.
"I can't help but think that the $21 million figure reflects their sense of their own generosity," Mr. Allen said. "But just because you've spent a lot of time and money on something doesn't mean it's very good."
Whatever the final price tag, the artists expect to recoup the cost of the project. In addition to selling drawings and mock-ups of earlier projects, Christo has already created many renderings of "The Gates," which he signs and sells to collectors and museums for as much as $1 million.
The artists said they sold $15.1 million worth of art last year to help pay for "The Gates," again raising the question of the project's cost.
Perhaps a visit to "The Gates," most of which were still standing last Tuesday, would provide inspiration for finding the elusive explanation.
Somewhere between the skating rink and the boathouse in Central Park, Christo appeared, made easy to spot by the white winter hat perched on his head like a large marshmallow. He was scrambling around a snow-covered ledge, directing his photographer to snap the last pictures of his orange masterpiece.
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.
Well ... how do you?
"There is enough money to pay for it, that is the important thing," he said, moving away. "Now please, let us continue with our photographs."
The reporter slinked away, empty-handed, feeling much like an apprentice of nothing.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
I read that article this morning and didn't think much of it. From what I've seen of The Gates and the police patrols, from what I've learned of the manufacturing process of the Gates, from what I've seen of the workers and truckers and the forklifts and go-karts, and all the other stuff, I think $21 million is a low figure.
I am also not impressed with the fact with the Mayor saying that The Gates brought so many millions of dollars into the city. The value of The Gates should not be measured solely in terms of money. There is a deeper value and meaning.
For me, The Gates has affected me more that I would have ever thought. I've been in the Park several times at 5:30 in the morning during and after the snowstorms and was deeply moved by the experience of being relatively alone in the Park.
I've been in the Park in mid to late afternoon and enjoyed the effect of the sun shining through the fabric. I have been intrigued with the play of sun, wind, and shadows on the viewing of The Gates.
I usually ride my bike through the Park, but I have taken some long walks in the Park recently and I'm really experiencing what a treasure the Park is.
This is a little of how it has affected me. How do you put a value on my experience or the experiences of thousands of other people?
When I first learned of Christo and his projects, I dismissed him as a wacko conceptual artist. Yet I was really taken by his response when questioned as to the meaning of The Gates. He said that there is no meaning, just go and experience it. I liked that.
By the way, I thought that the rest of the Gates would be dismantled today (Saturday), but no work is being done this weekend. So the remaining gates will be up until at least Monday. One of the workers told me that it would take another 5 days to "de-install" them.