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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Exhibit honors artists' vision

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By Di Linh Hoang / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Project “Running Fence” in the exhibition by Christo and Jeanne-Claude on display at Albuquerque Museum. The exhibition will run until Sept. 14.

A 24-mile nylon fence is the representation of two artists’ vision — a vision that is still being honored 38 years later.

The Albuquerque Museum is hosting a three-part film series alongside the exhibition of the daring duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Tom Golden Collection, from now until mid-September.

Elizabeth Becker, the Curator of Education at the Albuquerque Museum Foundation, said she is directing the film series, and calls their film a “human story,” because it relays the difficulties Christo and Jeanne-Claude overcame in order to construct the fence.

“Each film is crafted so that it highlights the anger, the drama, the highs and lows on a grand scale,” Becker said.

Great music and great shots create the drama and all three documentaries focus on the difficulties of each installment, she said.

“They are very conscious of their environmental impact,” Becker said. “They either try to leave the environment in the same or better condition than when they arrived.”

The Tom Golden Collection started when Golden became Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s project manager while they were building “Running Fence,” she said. He collected their work for years and eventually began to sell them in order to fund their projects.

“Most of their projects cost $3 to $10 million, and some even more,” Becker said.

The first of the three part series is “Running Fence,” where Albert and his brother David Maysles follow the couple along their creation of the fence and the difficulties they had trying to obtain approval from the community and the government, she said.

Albert and David Maysles, best known for their documentary “Gimme Shelter,” followed Christo and Jeanne-Claude during three of their most notable projects: “Running Fence,” “Islands” and “Umbrellas,” she said.

“‘Running Fence’ will be shown on Wednesday, ‘Islands’ will be shown Aug. 6 and ‘Umbrellas’ will be shown Sept. 3,” Becker said.

Meaghan Cavanaugh, the director of communications at the Albuquerque Museum Foundation, said the exhibit displays various preparatory drawings and collages of their work.

“The couple is known for their large-scale projects,” and the exhibit captures just that, Cavanaugh said.

As the installments are only temporary and last two weeks at most, the films along with the drawings and sketches help to preserve the artists’ work, she said.

“The drawings guide the viewers through the various stages that Christo and Jeanne-Claude took before and after the construction of their work,” she said.

Cathy Wright, the director of the Albuquerque Museum, worked with Elizabeth Becker and many others to make the exhibit enjoyable for adults and children alike.

“Installations usually take about four weeks; that means taking down the old exhibit, cleaning the gallery and setting up the new one,” Wright said.

The museum’s education department developed an interactive section to the exhibit for children, she said.

“The idea to hang the fabric from the ceiling came from the exhibit designer, Tom Antreasian. We thought that that would be a really fun entry,” said Wright.

Since Wright had worked with Christo before when she was at a museum in Colorado, she wrote to him asking him to come to Albuquerque, she said.

“It was all dependent on his travel plans,” Wright said. “He decided to come out to Colorado to work on one of his projects, and then decided to make the trip to Albuquerque to be with us.”

Christo will make a special appearance on Aug. 22 to discuss his newer works and review his past projects. Reservations are required, said Wright.

Moriah Carty is a freelance writer for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at cultureassistant@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @moriahcarty.