Off Limits

"The Gates" are now closed in New York City, where for sixteen days in February, Central Park was adorned with 7,500 saffron-colored panels by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. That leaves just one "artworks in progress" on the artists' website ( the long-promised "Over the River," which proposes to drape fabric panels over a seven-mile stretch of the Arkansas River between Salida and Cañon City.

A decade ago, Christo and Jeanne-Claude traveled 14,000 miles through the Rocky Mountains searching for a site for this installation, prospecting 89 rivers in seven states before settling on the Arkansas in 1996. Like "The Gates," this piece is slated to stretch over two weeks. But don't gas up the car just yet. "Permits are moving forward, but it takes time," e-mails Jok Church, speaking for Christo. "The Gates" took 26 years.

A Christo disciple handing out small squares of orange nylon in Central Park last month was much more optimistic. When an Off Limits operative asked how he could become a volunteer, she said it would be easy, that he'd just have to wait until Christo's next project. And that would be "draping the Arkansas River," she promised. "In two years."

Keep it under wraps.

Wall in the family: Mark down a win for Jared Anderson and The Assembly. Last week, the artist convinced Denver's notoriously testy Board of Adjustment for Zoning Appeals to grant a variance so that the gallery at 766 Santa Fe Drive can keep Anderson's monumental sculpture that spans the property and acts as a barrier between a backyard patio and the unsightly alley.

When city inspectors initially spied the piece, they cited the Assembly for having a wall made out of recycled doors, a banned material (Off Limits, February 17). After lengthy negotiations and machinations, though, the appeals board went into executive session and came out unanimously in favor of preserving the piece, under two conditions: that the sculpture be kept free of graffiti, and that Anderson get various neighbors to sign off. He'd come to the hearing with letters of support from such VIPs as Denver City Councilwoman Judy Montero, but BOA member Ben Romero wanted to make sure that local residents -- not just arts supporters -- were down with the doors.

"It was a funny dynamic," Anderson says. "They were all kind of exhausted and like, 'Let's just give it to him and get out of here.' I could tell in their eyes they felt they did a good thing."

It's definitely a good thing for the Assembly, which will launch its first film installation this week in the gallery's back yard. Plus, Anderson will get to show off to his former Columbine High School classmates when he hosts his ten-year class reunion there this summer.

"I'm going to continue to add to the art installation," he says. "It's still conceptual; I'm still weeding out some ideas for it. You'll see."

Yes, we will. And so will the Board of Adjustment.

On the Record

Thank Allah or Buddha or JC or whoever's pulling the strings up there for not allowing another tedious tome to be chosen for this year's One Book, One Denver project. Reading Peace Like a River was like being back in AP English class and slogging through Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio . But as far as Colorado Authors' League president Roxanne Hawn is concerned, Sandra Cisnero's Caramelo, Mayor John Hickenlooper's pick for 2005, goes too far afield, too. Off Limits asked Hawn to expound on this second snub of local talent.

Q: T here was some fallout over Peace Like a River. Do you think Caramelo is a better pick?

A: I didn't give much thought to it until the selection was made and my e-mail and voice mail started filling up. People were calling me as their beloved leader and saying, "How could you let this happen?" So I started looking into how these books were picked. When Mayor Hickenlooper came to speak with us in September, I had the opportunity, so I said, "Gosh, we'd really appreciate it if Colorado authors were considered."

Q: Who topped your list for One Book, One Denver?

A: I don't know if I can speak for the entire league, but as an avid reader, there were a handful of books I thought would be good selections for a variety of reasons. The Magic of Ordinary Days , by Ann Howard Creel. I loved The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn: A Novel , by Janis Hallowell -- it's hilarious. And anything by Kent Haruf, either Eventide or Plainsong. Those are all lovely books by local authors, and they all happen to be set in Colorado.

In particular, The Magic of Ordinary Days is about a DU graduate who gets pregnant during World War II, and her dad ships her off to marry a farmer in southeastern Colorado. Near that area, there were both POW camps and Japanese internment camps. Since we're in a time of war, and there are issues concerning prisoners of war and people are questioning the patriotism of people of various ethnic and religious backgrounds, I think that's a compelling thing to bring up. I grew up here, and I didn't know there were Japanese internment camps here or that they brought POWs to Colorado.

Q: Is the Denver literary scene as second-rate as some people perceive it to be?

A: I think our literary community is much more vibrant than anybody realizes -- even people in the business. I'm not saying we have the next Pulitzer Prize winner here locally -- or maybe we do -- but there's a huge community working and living here. To overlook them because they're not in New York, or wherever the magic place is, is a disservice.

Q: Are you concerned that Carmelo was chosen?

A: I'm not angry at the people or the decision, but I'm not sure people understand how strict the criteria are. The committee's hands are really tied. When I spoke with the mayor, he also told me there are other unspoken rules about sex, violence and the F-word. You look at modern literature, and somewhere there's going to be one of those three things. I know this is a community project, and I know they don't want to offend anyone, but I also think that rules out an awful lot. The mayor talks about The Rise of the Creative Class and the role we play in the sustainability of a modern city. But if we're so important, gosh, wouldn't it be nice to be acknowledged by the community in some way?

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.

Latest Stories