I took the NYTimes story and the Philadelphia Inquirer story in to school last week and read most of both to my 8th grade kids. The Times article was mainly a business story about hotel rooms filling and revenue coming into the city. The Inky story was a feature of Christo and Jean Claude and the art. They liked seeing how the same event was covered on the same day by 2 reporters, one in the city of the installation and one down the road about 1 1/2 hrs. It was really interesting to hear their comments after listening to the stories and looking at Christo art online, especially the Island Surround and Running Fence.
They started out very jaded about the whole art thing but were quick to pick up interest and discussion. "Is it Art" was topic #1 and 'Is it worth the money" was hot topic #2. Yes to both was the final conclusion for most of the kids, and now they mostly want to go see it themselves. When they learned that a woman was killed by an errant umbrella lifted by the wind while viewing Running Fence in California they were even more enthusiastic for the work (sick sick! typical!) but the discussion stayed on track mostly. They wanted to know if Bill Gates was funding the project. (!) They really did question the cost, and were stunned to hear that Christo pays for this from his own money. The tsunami relief was brought up and they thought maybe the money should have gone there instead. They were amazed at stories about volunteers and 'Christo groupies' that travel the world to see the installations and work with the artists on installing the work. It was a good beginning to our art class on Thursday!
I am fortunate to be going to NYC tomorrow on another mission and will make sure to spend some time and take some photos of The Gates for myself and to send to my son who just moved to San Fran from NYC. He is really sorry not to be able to see it in person as a resident on NYC.
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