Ten years ago one of the most fascinating art exhibits in NYC history debuted in Central Park. It was called simply the Gates. Created by the eccentric artists Christo and Jean-Claud, at over twenty-five years in the making, the Gates unfurled for the public on February 12th, 2005.
The Gates was a massive sprawl of Japanese inspired "torrii gates", made out of saffron-colored nylon fabric, which covered the entire expanse of Central Park from 59th to 110th Streets. (Torrii gates appear at Japanese Shinto shrines and are symbolic portals between the physical and spirit worlds). For the last two weeks of February 2005, this public art exhibit transformed Central Park, pulled in over 4 million visitors, and generated over $250 million in revenue for NYC. It made the Central Park of our loving collective conscience into something different, something exquisite -- like looking at your child dressed up in a beautiful custom.
It was an amazing sight to behold.
Walking through the Gates, as I did one chilly Sunday afternoon with my mother, was a wonderful experience. Having walked through Central Park many times in my life (and many times with my mom), strolling through the Gates with her felt like we were walking in the park again for the first time. And, of course, we were not alone -- many other people were also milling around us, amazed by the splendor of the exhibit. And that's what was so incredible about the Gates -- it made you look at something you had seen before many times but differently, it created a unique experience, and it brought you closer to the people you were sharing the experience with. It was very special.
And then ... it was gone ...
Obviously, the Gates was meant to be temporary. By the end of February 2005, they had vanished, never to return. And that was part of the experience of the Gates: its very nature was ephemeral. It wasn't meant to last. The Gates was meant to be an experience, a moment in time to remembered and cherished. And now, ten years later, it still is.