The Gates: Monitoring Day 4 - "I did this."

February 26, 2005

Ah, day three in Zone 5. Vive la resitance! I am definitely in my home Gates subgroup. Everywhere I turn I am working with people I like and people that like me. Smiles all around. This is nice.

Today I am assigned to Zone 5 Area 5, which is the area south by southwest from the tennis courts. My installation crew put up 25 of the Gates in this area, it was where we were on the last part of day four and the first part of day five. It is a Saturday and there is plenty of traffic to and from the public restrooms in this area. I see a lot of people today and I begin my first act of Gates improv--I hold fabric swatches in neat stacks in my hand rather than keeping them stashed out of sight like dime bags. This is a subtle visual invitation to request one.

It works, I am handing out A LOT more fabric swatches and in the course of this activity I get a lot more chances to interact with people. Some patterns emerge. First, a large portion of the people who ask for a swatch seem to want to exchange a kind and/or encouraging word for it. That's nice when it is genuine, but a subset of these regard their expression as a polite but emotionally empty gesture. However, many others genuinely appreciate the fact that I took the time out from my regularly-scheduled life to do this; I can see it in their eyes when they thank me. They mean it. That's nice.

I get more than one chance to casually wave a hand towards a handsome run of 25 perfectly installed Gates and say "I was on the team that installed those." It is a magnificent run of pathway out in the open, in front of a long row of benches which face the dozens of tennis courts at the Central Park Tennis Center. There's a low rise in the middle, they are really over the crest of a gentle roll in the Park's landscape. It's a place where one can really appreciate the almost sacredly subtle inflections of Christo's talent.

This gentle flowing line of Gates manfestly resembles the gentle stroke of an impressionist's brush, meant to suggest so much by leaving so detail to imagination--a joyous flick of a satisfied artist's wrist expressed as a gentle wave of color. Sure, there are a lot of people who don't get this work of Art. There are a lot of people who don't get cubism. So? What is Art? A popularity contest?

My team did that. We were the brush dutifully applying Christo's paint across Olmsted and Vaux's canvas. We were true and reliable, and the stroke was beautiful.

As you might imagine, it was a joyous experience to get to stand out there all day and talk about the project. I did a lot of that. I did a bit of snow removal maintenance, I learned some more about snow and ice management. It was a fairly quiet day, I probably adjusted a half dozen curtains that wrapped around the frame that day, and I handed out about 700 swatches.

It was fun, but I was going to ask to go back to where I started in the morning. I wanted to spend the last day in Zone 5 Area 1, it was home. Zone 5 Area 5 was more like the summer place. It's really nice to get a chance to spend some time there, but home is home.