|byLee Wayne Mills|
|(Editor's note: Rehoboth artist Lee Wayne Mills made a hurried day trip to New York City in mid-February to see the much talked-about Christo's Gates art installation throughout Central Park. He found much to relate to our own art-filled community.)
The Gates of Central Park
Is saffron really a color? Christo and Jeanne Claude's Gates seemed orange to me as I looked out, and over them, from the roof of The Metropolitan Museum in New York City last week.
It was a cool, brisk daybreezy in that urban way, when winds whip through a city and ricochet off buildings. High puffy clouds carried the threat of storms and cast bruised blue shadows over the buildings along Central Park West. Is that the San Remo or the Dakota I asked? My companions were mute but I got seven answers from those around me: four in English, two in French and one in an Asian tongue I could not identify. It was indeed the San Remo. The Dakota is a much smaller building to the South. My re-education and my day in New York had begun.
The enormous Metropolitan Museum is an old friend. As an artist, art administrator and art history student, I have spent many of the best days of my life there. Its roof had just given me a new highlight to add to my list of memorable Met experiences. My last visit, sadly some years ago, had focused on the classics. So on the way downstairs from the roof, I decided to concentrate on the Met's newer contemporary galleries.
Room after room of some of the best art made in the last fifty years catalogued in my mind. The galleries were stunning, turning obliquely into each other, walls giving way to outlooks that enticed, with views of a mezzanine below, full of more masterworks. A cascade of shaded skylights reinforced the notion of "modern" and suddenly the Metropolitan had been transformed for me. It was a Fab Five makeover of sorts.
This formerly staid and straight-laced bastion of antiquities and classics suddenly sported trendier exhibits dressed in the latest fashion.
So, too, were the peoplethousands of them: in the Met, in the lines for the cafes, and in the park itself. All were chattering, exclaiming and talking to each other, taking pictures of each other and helping each other with directions. For almost three hours I walked throughout the park more amazed by the event itself than by the actual Gates as an aesthetic concept. The artistic richness here was the celebration of the people themselves and we can be sure that concept was a principal concern for Christo and Jeanne Claude as well. The Gates as a conceptual and architectural endeavor were lovely, but did not have either the scale nor the audacity of their earlier Reichstag wrapping (cloth covering the notorious former Nazi stronghold in Germany) or the islands in Biscayne Bay (Hot pink material surrounding entire islands!).
What they did do was call infinite attention to a place whose size, history and import we have long taken for granted or stopped seeing altogether. It was phenomenal. Central Park will not soon recover its anonymity.
On the drive home to Rehoboth Beach that evening I reflected on all the day's eventsand how Rehoboth-like they had beenfriendly people walking the streets talking to each other, telling people in line at the caf to have the pasta salad, suggesting the rest rooms in the south wing were easier to get to....
And two things resonated loudly in my head: 1) I am ready for spring and the annual Rehoboth renaissancedoors open, tables on the porches and sidewalks and the drifting sounds of people enjoying the town. Laughter and the smell of French fries or cotton candy.
And 2) What variety of Christo might we conjure here in our hometown? Seaside Windowsframing our own stunning vistas around town? Winter Coatsslip covers with a theme for our boardwalk benches? What would be a good idea? What would it take to devise the perfect outdoor art project and get our town fathers and citizens to embrace it? And, oh golly, suddenly New York City came to mind.
Lee Wayne Mills is co-owner of Coastal Gallery and Frameshop in Rehoboth Beach.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 2 March 11, 2005