Weekly musings on the arts and current events.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Running Fence


In the summer of 1976, I was acting in stock in the Napa Valley while the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude were draping the neighboring hills of Sonoma and Marin with their Running Fence. It was twenty four and a half miles long, eighteen feet high, and crossed fifty nine ranches. It remains in my memory as one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen.

For those who have never driven through the hills of Northern California, they are truly gentle and rolling. Martin Luther King, in his "I Have a Dream" speech, called them "curvaceous"--a Playboy neologism, but so what? Running Fence drew a luminous white line along the slopes and rises. The fabric shimmered in the sunlight and glowed in the dusk. In short, the fence derived all its beauty from its surroundings, and thereby showed how truly selfless art can be.

1976 was America's Bicentennial Year and it was also the year of my father's final illness. When Jeanne-Claude died this week, I was newly in mourning for my mother. For me, the artist's passing reprises her fence, and reminds me that the beauty of my parents' lives was derived by the humble way with which they graced their surroundings.

Click on the picture for a closer look.

6 comments:

DUTA said...

I'm deeply sorry to learn about the recent loss of your Mother and the untimely death of your father in 1976. May their beautiful, humble souls rest in eternal peace!

There are no sensitive enough words to comfort a mourner and ease his pain. May God comfort, strengthen and bless you during this grieving period.

momcat said...

I'm so sorry that you have lost you mother. It is good that you can celebrate your parents lives with your memories. What an emotional time for you. All my very best.

dragonfly said...

This type of art, though it is physically temporary, it continues to exist in the hearts & memories of those who experience it and who help form it. It touches each of their lives- the people who help plan and build it, the people who view it,  and the community surrounding it. Though it is fleeting, it remains with us. 

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