More than two decades and $15 million into his work on a massive art installation in Colorado, the artist Christo has halted the project.
The abrupt decision was made because, as reporter New York Times Randy Kennedy put it, the federally owned land “has a new landlord he refuses to have anything to do with: President Trump.”
The project called “Over the River” would have spread a silver canopy just over the surface of the Arkansas River from Salida to Cañon City. It required nearly 6 miles of fabric panels and would have cost more than $50 million, the Times reports. Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, were collaborating on the project until she died in 2009.
The decision to stop the project is the largest protest of Trump an artist has made and represents a huge loss of time, money and effort for Christo.
But many Coloradans are probably relieved by the decision. One group called Rags Over the Arkansas River (ROAR) has been fighting “Over the River” for years, arguing that it would cause significant environmental damage in Bighorn Sheep Canyon.
The Denver Post’s Jason Blevins wrote about the legal battle two years ago and reported that “the project would take 27 months to erect and would be on display for a mere two weeks before a three-month removal process.”
And the Colorado project is far from the first time Christo’s art has caused controversy. In 2010, The Week created this helpful timeline of his battles dating back to 1976.
His 2016 project, “Floating Piers,” brought criticism. An opinion piece in the Denver Post describes a flood of visitors (and their trash) to the installation on a lake in Italy and called the project “a warning to Colorado.”
In a statement on Facebook, Christo wrote that he will now focus on a project in Abu Dhabi, “The Mastaba,” which he and Jeanne-Claude conceived of 40 years ago.
“I have been fortunate to work with many dedicated Colorado residents as well as Federal and State agencies who have been a part of Over The River,” he wrote. “I am grateful to everyone who was part of this journey.”