What may be "open air artist" Christo's last major masterpiece is the focus of a tense battle with angry Colorado environmentalists. Christo, 75, plans to drape some 42 miles of the Arkansas River beneath a silvery curtain. Foes says the self-indulgent ego exercise by the "eco-terrorist" artist will clog traffic and spook wildlife. Shopkeepers and hoteliers, however, are salivating at the thought of extra tourist bucks that would undoubtedly be wooed by the art, notes the Wall Street Journal. The decision is up to the federal Bureau of Land Management, which is currently holding public hearings on Christo's proposal.
"The BLM is playing Russian roulette with our canyon," said one speaker recently. "Art is not supposed to play God over the elements." But to Christo, who has spent $7 million and 18 years on the project already, the work would help emphasize the river's beauty. Speaking of spots where he plans to open his "Over the River" exhibit, he gushed: "You come out from under the fabric, and suddenly you'll see the clouds and the light—it'll all break open, beautiful." The wild-haired Christo is no stranger to controversy. He fought for 24 years to convince Germany to allow him to wrap Berlin's Reichstag in fabric, and fought hard for permission to erect his flowing fabric "Gates" in New York's Central Park.