Around the Corner: A connection through the curtain
In high school I dabbled in art, taking a few classes. By no means did I believe I would make a living creating art, but I did find an appreciation for it.
Driven to become a photographer from a young age, I didn’t see taking pictures as fine art. It was all about high speed action shots and sports photography — I was going to be the next staff photographer at Sports Illustrated.
Like many 18-year-olds I had a plan but didn’t have the funding to back it up. I chose to enroll at a small local junior college, because I knew they offered several photography classes.
One of the drawbacks of the photography program at the time, was for every photo class you had to take 3-4 fine art classes. All it took was one of those classes and a professor with a unique teaching style to hook my fascination with art.
The class was art history, and the professor’s name was LaVar Steel.
In an auditorium-sized classroom and the lights turned down I watched as slide after slide of works of art were displayed before my eyes in vivid color, and the professor spoke to every detail of the piece down to the artist’s motivation to make it.
On Sunday when I heard the news of the passing of artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, I was reminded of the connection that I found with Rifle when I first moved to town last year.
Many longtime Rifle residents know the renowned Bulgarian artists simply as Christo and his partner Jeanne-Claude, who back in 1972 suspended a curtain across the 1,250-foot-wide Rifle Gap.
Known simply as the Valley Curtain, the art installation lasted only 28 hours, before high winds destroyed it.
The first week I worked in Rifle I made a trip to the Rifle Heritage Center and took a tour. As I passed through a hallway I noticed a display that looked oddly familiar. Just like that, I was transported back over 20 years to art history.
With photos and even a piece of the curtain in front of my eyes I could only smile and remember sitting in that art history class listening to Professor Steel introduce none other than the Valley Curtain by Christo and Jean-Claude.
We watched the documentary, “Christo’s Valley Curtain.” Fittingly, the film was only 28 minutes, a minute for each hour the 200,000-square-foot orange nylon curtain draped across the gap.
Maybe it was the color, which happens to be my favorite; maybe it was the artists’ drive to complete the impossible. All I know is that out of all my experiences I’ve had in my life, it just amazes me that I can remember my first introduction to the area and the town of Rifle, and now I’m living here.
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