For Christo, art is a process, not artifact  

BOULDER – By the simple measure of engagement, Christo’s plans to drape 5.9 miles of river canyon with translucent fabric is already a smashing success.

Christo spoke at a forum at the University of Colorado in Boulder last Thursday, showing 80 slides of “Over the River,” his proposed Colorado project, and those of a project planned in the Mideast. The 1,000-plus seats were all occupied, with hundreds more standing or sitting on the floor.

Christo considers his projects and their process art, although many dispute that. But that is exactly the point.

Speaking with newspapers in Denver and Boulder before his presentation, the 78-year-old Christo explained art typically is a matter of small circles, the connoisseurs. But their projects – he still speaks of his late wife Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009, as if she were alive – are in-your-face public. That’s intentional.

“For many years, all the people are thinking how the work will be beautiful, how the work will be awful,” he told The Denver Post. “Basically the work is working in the mind of the people before it physically exists. This is probably the biggest satisfaction we have – Jeanne Claude and myself – because this is the only thing artists like to have, whether it’s painting or sculpture, to have the people comment and discuss their works.”

Speaking with the CU Daily, Christo said he and his team don’t do commissioned work. “Where’s the fun in that? You’re probably going to miss out on all those people discussing the proposed work at public hearings, where the attendees in effect become creative participants.”

Among the first projects of the Bulgarian-born Christo and Jeanne-Claude, a native of France, was one in Colorado. At a site called Rifle Gap, the artists unfurled the Valley Curtain in 1972. It fluttered in the canyon gap for 28 hours before strong winds shredded the bright orange fabric.

Later, the couple erected a running fence in California’s coastal foothills, surrounded islands in plastic near Miami and put a cocoon around Berlin’s Reichstag. They passed on this writer’s suggestion in the 1990s to create a project near Vail, placing a toupee atop Bald Mountain.


Transportation carbon tax in Jackson Hole?

JACKSON, Wyo. – British Columbia has a carbon tax, as does Ireland, Australia and several other countries. But it’s scarce in the United States, with just two jurisdictions – Boulder and Montgomery County, Md. – having adopted carbon taxes tied to electricity generation.

But Wyoming’s Teton County — more informally Jackson Hole — could upstage any of these. Jonathan Schechter, a local economist, analyst and activist, proposes a carbon tax to be levied on all forms of publicly regulated transportation, including taxis, air travel and buses. However, the local government would have no purview over energy used for cars and trucks.

According to a 2009 report, transportation is responsible for nearly 80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in Teton County. Ground transportation was the lion’s share, but air travel was responsible for 17 percent.

Schechter makes the argument that Jackson Hole, because of its high visibility, can send a message to the world. He also argues that it has more responsibility.

“If we are creating pollution and creating a mess, then it’s our responsibility to clean it up,” he told the Jackson Hole News&Guide. “That’s an important message to send to the world.”

Schechter is widely followed in Jackson Hole, where he has a twice-monthly column in the News&Guide. But he hasn’t sold Jackson’s most powerful politician, Mayor Mark Barron. “I am dubious,” Barron told the newspaper.

But Schechter also argues that if Teton County were to adopt a carbon tax, it would be good publicity. “This would be another feather in the cap embellishing our record,” he said.

The money from the carbon tax could be used to defray the cost of solar panels in Jackson Hole, but conceivably even help preserve forests on other continents that serve as carbon sinks.


Drinking sugar by the jar full with soda pops

TELLURIDE – A speaker in Telluride promoting a tax on sugary beverages had a dramatic way of showing just how much sugar is contained in soda pops.

Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, held up a Mason jar filled two-thirds to the top with granulated sugar. That, he said, is how much sugar a person will ingest if he or she drinks a soda pop every day for a week.

Goldstein was one of two speakers at an assembly held in Telluride, according to the Daily Planet. There, voters in November will be asked to approve the 1 cent per ounce tax. The money would go to children’s health and physical activities. The initiative is called Kick the Can Telluride.

Another speaker, Jeff Ritterman, a cardiologist who initiated a sugar tax in Richmond, Calif., said the number of overweight children and obese adults in the United States has doubled during the past 30 years. “When we pour the soda, we pour on the pounds,” he said. Other repercussions: tooth decay and type 2 diabetes.

California’s tax proposal was defeated, which Ritterman blamed on the $2.5 million spent by manufacturers of soda pop campaigning against the tax.

In Telluride, the proposition is being opposed by at least one of the two local groceries. Unlike the proposal itself, which comes from California, said Bob Harnish, manager of Village Market, those contributing funds to defeat the tax all come from Colorado.


Beavers busy but boy are they a nuisance!

FRASER – Oh, those busy beavers have been up to mischief again. Jeff Durbin, town manager of Fraser, says the town is out to get all the beavers that have been damming the Fraser River as it flows from Winter Park. According to a report in the Sky-Hi News, the town would be a lot better off without the big-toothed rodents.

Beaver carry giardia, a parasite, and their dams create deep ponds that draw moose, which tend to get ornery with people and their dogs. Plus, the dams back up water which floods segments of the trail adjoining the river.

Fraser has hired trappers, with the intention of exiling the beaver to less gentrified settings.


You can buy marijuana, but where can you use it?

ASPEN – You will, if you go to Aspen, be able to buy marijuana for personal use. But where can you smoke it?

That was the question posed to the Aspen City Council recently by Lauren Maytin, an attorney and National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws board member.

The council was in the process of allowing the sale of marijuana in the city’s business districts, with rules similar to those governing liquor stores. The Aspen Daily News reports that the city council capped the number of establishments at eight.

Aspen became the 19th municipality in Colorado to allow sales, while 77 have said no and 35 have delayed decisions by adopting moratoriums.

None of the cities so far have allowed so-called “hash bars,” where people might join private clubs to smoke marijuana. Utah used to have a similar arrangement for consumption of liquor.

Colorado’s constitutional amendment approved by voters last November is ambiguous about where pot can be consumed if you don’t own your own property. Public consumption of marijuana remains illegal in Colorado, and that’s even more true of national forests. Marijuana use remains a federal offense.

Maytin, the attorney, argued that not providing a place for people to smoke marijuana is a problem. She suggests tourists might be kicked out of hotels, ticketed on the street, or arrested on federal land.


Oh, where are those weeks of fall loafing?

ASPEN – It was, by all accounts, a beautiful autumn in the Colorado mountains. A snowstorm arrived in September, and many expected the leaves to turn rusty, as is usually the case. Instead, they glowed and gleamed like a psychedelic painting.

It used to be that this time of aspen glow the off-season, but a columnist in the Aspen Daily News argues that is no longer the case. And that's to the detriment of the community.

“The sanctity of off-season is lost on most people these days,” writes Lorenzo Semple. “That bums me out. The city should consider forming an off-season preservation committee, complete with funny hats and a clown-car that roams downtown construction projects stopping traffic.”


Whistler hopes festival adds to May busyness

WHISTLER, B.C. – The central question animating Whistler’s public discourse seems to be how to expand an already big economy into the non-skiing months. The most immediate answer is to allocate $290,000 toward a long-weekend festival during May as a kickoff to the summer season.

Whistler has dallied with spring busyness before. A festival in a similar time slot was perceived as a dud, as it drew young adults with a tendency to D&D: drink and disrupt. Whistler, reports Pique Newsmagazine, believes it can give this May festival an image makeover, just as it has the New Year’s celebration, which once also was a time of drunkenness and debauchery.

The power of Whistler’s brand is evident in a report called the Economic Partnership Initiative. That report found that Whistler represents 22.5 percent of the province’s tourism revenue.

The money comes from destination visitors, who are responsible for 68 percent of the total commercial sector spending. They spend an average of $265 a day.

Whistler’s permanent population is 10,000, but the daily population actually hovers around 28,000, thanks to the influx of visitors.

Looking forward, the resort figures to spend $1.5 million to gussy up the entrance to town and devote $3.16 million to expanding the lineup of festivals. Economic architects see expansion of “existing, smaller-scale and authentic Whistler community events while actively working to attract ‘world-scale’ events.”


Revelstoke’s lodging sector shows gains

REVELSTOKE, B.C. – Revelstoke’s tourism economy continues to grow. The Revelstoke Times Review reports a 17 percent increase in taxes on accommodations since 2008, roughly parallel to the increased bed base. Marketing efforts were also credited with the surge.

This contrasts with a far more modest increase in tourism in British Columbia since 2010 of just 1.2 percent.

However, the real estate boom that many welcomed – and others feared – in Revelstoke isn’t happening. A municipal report says out-of-towners – sometimes called second-home owners –own just 20 percent of community real estate, far behind province leader Sun Peaks, where the rate is 86 percent, followed by 76 percent at Whistler and Radium Hot Springs.

– Allen Best

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In this week's issue...

July 18, 2024
Rebuilding Craig

Agreement helps carve a path forward for town long dependent on coal

July 11, 2024
Reining it in

Amid rise in complaints, City embarks on renewed campaign to educate dog owners

July 11, 2024
Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale