It all started with a simple exchange about headstones.
Only a few minutes after I commented to one of my Flickr friends that I was saddened by the fact that art has become a separate compartment in our modern lives, my wife called from the next room, "hey, come see this!" HBO was showing a feature on "The Gates", presented by Christo in Central Park, NYC, in February of 2005.
I think that the piece was very well done, although I only saw less than half of it. It was well under way before my wife managed to discover it. The part I saw showed the emotional impact on a wide variety of people, from local to international. Christo and Jeanne-Claude had aged considerably since I was privileged to see them face to face at Laguna Gloria many (approximately 30) years ago, but then so have I aged, I think. It's harder to see it in my own face.
Throughout history, cultures have been judged by the artistic accomplishments of their everyday lives. It is probably one of the most basic of human deeds. The people who are reputed to have inhabited Seminole Canyon far as long as ten thousand years, left nothing but their art. Only a few fragile remnants of their utilitarian life have been found, but the paintings they did abound! In our harried "modern" life, it appears that art fails to be a part of our everyday lives. I once heard my wife tell of a friend of hers, who was a very talented artist, who claimed that "art is something that has no utilitarian purpose". I abhor the idea that art should be separated from utility.
I suppose it's easy enough to say that "The Gates" had no utilitarian purpose, but for a brief time they stirred the intellect of several thousand people, just as, almost thirty years earlier, the "Running Fence" in California achieved the same purpose.