The Gates: Installation Day 5

February 11, 2005

Richard gets grimThis was the day the physical activity sort of caught up with me. I had been up later than usual the night before, owing to my outside commitments. This morning when I woke up I really did not want to get out of bed. I did anyway, but I ran a bit behind and I missed the bus I usually catch, so I showed up a tad late.

When I arrived, I was greeted with the news that my assistance was desired with a special Gate installation that day. I suppose I had distinguished myself with my handling of Gates installation pieces, I did not find them heavy or difficult to lift once you located their center of gravity, and I had become as adept as one could in a few short days at moving them around and orchestrating preparations for installation. I honestly feel that I was no better at this than anyone else in my crew, I just think my large size and bulky appearance inspired confidence in my ability to manhandle these big pieces of PVC and aluminum. In any case, I was pleased to be singled out for assistance with some especially tricky installtion and looked forward to doing it when the time came.

Picking up the slackBut, before then, we were dispatched out to the other area we had been in the day before (west of the tennis courts) to complete the work of a crew that ran behind schedule. We had our materials, or most of them, and the weather cooperated for the fifth day in a row, so even though we discussed not getting in too much of a hurry so that we would not be called away to do something like pick up trash, we breezed through the final ten Gates we had to install in the early part of the morning.

The tricky installation was the placement of a Gate where one of the uprights had to pass through a loop in some Park railing, which meant that it could not be installed according to the typical procedure. A workable plan had been devised that involved tipping the Gate to one side to get the upright through the railing loop, and even though that was not the way I would have done it, it worked fine.

the eggIt was a bit of a thrill because Christo's photographer, Wolfgang Volz, arrived to photograph this installation, and we had a bit of an audience. But, it wasn't that big a deal, though the installation, which is near the west side entrance at 90th street, is worth seeing in that the Gate is installed in a very unique way.

What was a bigger thrill for me was getting to finish the entire Park installation, i.e., getting to assist with the installation of the very last Gate, about an hour after that. It was in the same area of the Park, just a few feet away, and I didn't realize that it was the final Gate installation until after we completed it. A few minutes after that, Jeanne-Claude and Christo rolled up in their car and began signing our smocks, and they signed mine first. That was a bit of a surprise, so I didn't have anyone get a picture of it, but it was nice to have the both of them writing on my back at the same time, being actually physically touched by the artists that conceived all of this, and just a few minutes after we had finished the work.

The Erector SetThe rest of the afternoon we spent picking up trash and walking through the installation. We made a little tour of the Park, going up to to a high point to overlook the installation, and walking through the Ramble, a part of the Park with no Gates but a lovely view of the lake. After lunch we were dismissed, ready to get some extra rest and prepare for the unfurling of the curtains the next morning.