Controversy and art often go hand in hand, and the proposed "Over The River" project in central Colorado is no exception. In this case, it's the medium rather than the message that has people up in arms.
The artists, Christo
and Jeanne-Claude, who use only single names, are known for
large-scale temporary exhibits spanning natural or urban features.
This time, they've got their eye on the Arkansas River. They want
to suspend translucent fabric over four to six miles of river
between Caûon City and Salida.
raised environmental and safety concerns over the colossal work of
art. The network of fabric and supporting cables worries wildlife
managers, and biologists are studying the effects of crowds on a
declining herd of bighorn sheep.
that I see is trying to manage the people," says Pete Zwaneveld of
the Bureau of Land Management. A narrow two-lane highway with few
turnouts and steep eroding hillsides is the only access to the
"I'd just as soon not see it to avoid all
the headaches," concludes Zwaneveld. The agency is requiring an
environmental assessment for the project before it decides whether
to grant a special-use permit to the
Christo and Jeanne-Claude are addressing
these issues, says Tom Golden, project director for "Over The
River." They've hired a private firm to complete the environmental
assessment and are conducting extensive tests on the fabric. "If
there was something not correct, they would not do the project," he
Michael Becker, a Coaldale resident and
self-described "Joe Blow" protesting the project, fears a
catastrophe. He points to the artists' ill-fated Valley Curtain in
Rifle Gap, Colo., which was blown down and scattered by an
unexpected gale-force wind. "What happens when the "Over The River"
project becomes the "In The River" dam?" he asks.