(Photo: CPR/Michael Hughes)Late this summer, the world-renowned artist Christo rafted down the Arkansas River outside of Salida. The bushy white-haired 79-year-old practically beamed as the raft slid into a rapid. This river - one of the most rafted in the U.S. - is where Christo’s been trying for years to suspend heavy duty silver fabric from bank to bank. He imagines the fabric and the light will merge to turn the landscape into art.
"From intimate morning light when the fabric - because the fabric is like a mural - it becomes pinkish in the morning with the rising of the sun. In the middle of the day, we’re platinum and in the afternoon we have total golden fabric," explains Christo about his Over the River project.
Christo's been working on this installation for 22 years. Plenty of people in the area oppose it. They think it will disrupt wildlife and create traffic nightmares along the highway and on the river.
For a project that takes this long, Christo makes repeated trips to Colorado to give talks and put the installation back into people’s minds.
CPR's arts team caught up with Christo on his most recent trip to Colorado. He’s still waiting for a permit and there’s still a citizen’s lawsuit aimed at shutting it down.
Standing along the banks of the Arkansas River, Christo talks about how he and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, got the idea in the first place.
There's a youthful enthusiasm about Christo as continues to work not only on "Over the River" but another project in the United Arab Emirates. It’s called the Mastaba and once completed in Abu Dhabi, it would be the largest sculpture in the world made of hundreds of thousands of multi-colored barrels. It’s an idea that Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude developed in 1977.