Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jeanne- Claude and Christo, The Artists

Jeanne-Claude and Christo were responsible for some of the most over the top outdoor "art" exhibits that this world has ever seen.  They were a married artistic duo that wrapped the senate building in Berlin  and 11 islands in Biscayne Bay , Florida with yards and yards of fabric and placed umbrellas on the California coast and in Japan simultaneously.  Jeanne-Claude with her blazing red hair died suddenly in 2009. Yesterday there was an article in the Wall Street Journal Magazine about their love and their life's work and how Christo is trying to continue without her.

It reminded me of 2005, when they installed "The Gates" in New York City.  The gates were curtains of tangerine fabric hanging from metal arches placed throughout the pathways in Central Park.  The installation lasted for only 16 days.  At that point in my life, I was an avid walker.  I had lost a lot of weight (over 100 pounds) walking my feet off everywhere we travelled.  I would put on my headphones and joyously walk to the beat of happy music for miles and miles.  I so wanted to walk with my music up and down and around Central Park through all of those gates under the billowing fabric, but we lived in Philadelphia - about 2 1/2 hours away. 

My husband was a workaholic back in 2005 and spent the weekdays working or traveling many, many hours a day and then spent the weekend recharging.  I mentioned how much fun I thought it would be to see the gates.  He surprised me by saying, "let's go".  And so we did.  It was a beautiful sunny winter's day.  There was snow on the ground which made the curtains glow even more.  I walked and walked and walked,  And then took tons of photos.   There were even people in the park handing out 2"x2"  pieces of the tangerine curtains. My husband and I each took one.

Of course then I had to make my own art.  The piece I made was 8"x11".  I printed one of the photos in black and white on fabric. I then stitched over the branches of the trees with brown thread,  the metal posts with orange thread and then I added 3-D orange fabric curtains.  It was embellished with buttons and beads.  I called it "Joyous Gates".

I also made a few ATC's (Artists Trading Cards) using the same technique.  For these small pieces, I actually used the pieces of the tangerine fabric that were being passed out.  (Since I needed more little squares of fabric  than I had, I was able to buy more on e-bay.)

I sold my larger piece during a quilt exhibit, but framed some of the ATC's to preserve my memory.


  1. Love how you used an artistic experience to create more art!

  2. Cheryl, I love your textile interpretation.

    My DH and I were there too! We got to the park early on the first day, about 7 am, and spent about an hour walking around, taking some photos. As we were nearing the pond, I stopped to tie my shoe. My husband tugged at my sleeve and pointed at two passers by--Christo and Jean-Claude herself, with body guards! They were seeing the exhibit open for the first time! We tagged along behind, as joggers called out kudos to them --Wonderful! Thank you! Jean Clude was more talkative, while Christo just took it in.

    It made the memorable experience even more memorable!

  3. These are amazing! I love use of beads and 3d elements. Its the kind of quilting I like to do but dont do enough of. I would love to use phots the way you did.,.

  4. Thank you for the reminder of, "The Gates." I did not see the installation, but I remember the article about them. I love the small art quilt that you did and the ATCs. Thanks for a pleasant reminder.

  5. I guess I had completely missed out on the experience.. But I love how you interpreted your experience in the art form and shared the story here!

  6. I have never seen those!!! Very cool!

  7. Hi Cheryl. I didn't get to go see the Gates, but followed it online. There were some great art spoofs of it, too, like one person put mini gates all over her house and had her cats walking under them. There was one somehow related to ducks. People really got into it. Robin Schwalb works at the Met and got me a square of the fabric, and I was just thrilled. I drew one of the gates into the piece I was working on at the time.

    I love the art you made about the Gates and how you wrote about it. Carol, you running into the artists checking out their project is amazing. I'm so glad you both were there.

    Thanks a lot for the sweet art memories. Lucky


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