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Current Issue: Volume 23, No. 4. Week of February 13, 2005

Christo's Gates in Central Park

jeanne's first version of When We Need Each Other
Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
The shifting light on Saturday couldn't have been better to show off the effects of the cloth.

Art as Part and Parcel of our Social Life

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University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: February 13, 2005
Latest Update: February 13, 2005

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Topic of the Week:

Art as Part and Parcel of Our Everyday Life

Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
The weather was windy and cold as the first fabric dropped from
one of the 7,500 16-foot-high gates, creating what the artists billed as
"a visual golden river'' along the park's footpaths.
Suzanne Dechillo's lead photo in the New York Times this morning turned the day to bright and sunny, as did Andrea Mohin's aerial view. I didn't think I'd miss the Christo display in Central Park that much. But on Friday we had an emergency trip to our ophtamologist, (Arnold's eyes swelled up like Talking Cat's sometimes do - he's OK now. Allergy, and not to Talking Cat.), and there on the wall as I waited was a print of Christo's display of umbrellas in the grapevine, just above Los Angeles (Yellow ones in the grapevine. Blue ones in Tokyo.). So, maybe, I thought, I'll miss it a little. A little. I could cry to go see it.

This is a case in which our newspapers are making valiant efforts to bring us a visual sense of what we're missing. The photographs are splendid. How wonderful that the New York Times put them out there for all of us to see. I've backed them up so we can use them for lecturesext Fall, as well as this Spring, on art and everyday life. I hope Carly can take a copy to her friend Susan, who's ill. I should think that sight would bring a spark of joy to anyone.

I am thrilled about several things with this exhibit. First, we see the value of photography in zooming images across the globe. Words could not have led me to envision this. I needed to see it, at least some perspective of it. I had already read a lot about it, and reading didn't make me cry to go there. Second, the New York Times included photographs by many photographers, so we had closeups showing children and their parents, closeups of Christo, his wife, Jeanne-Claude, and Mayor Bloomberg, and architectural and landscape shots. All those different perspectives helped me imagine what I could not be present for. And thrid, it's clear that none of these photographs could have happened without artists putting their work out there for us. What a wonderful combination of the two. I hope this will help raise your consciousness, too, of the importance of the visual to the social world in which we live.

Now, Christo's work costs millions of dollars to display, and is generally up for only a few weeks. But if his work makes us think in terms of the many possibilities of the visual for enriching and transforming the lives we live, that's a great contribution. The art we put up in the Naked Space Exhibits can have the same effect, and it's much closer to do-able for most of us.

Today's stories n the New York Times on Christo's Central Park "Gates" are:

  • A Billowy Gift to the City, in a Saffron Ribbon By Michael Kimmelman. (Feb. 13, 2005).
  • Dressing the Park in Orange, and Pleats By James Barron. Published: February 13, 2005.
  • 'The Gates, Central Park, New York, 1979-2005': Christo and Jeanne-Claude And more, for those of you who, like me, wish you could see it.
  • Nurture New York's Nature This site has prints and the official catalog on the Gates for sale.

    "The renowned artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, have given two gifts to New York City. The first, The Gates, Project for Central Park, will adorn twenty-three miles of the Park's walkways for sixteen days in February 2005. The project cost about $20 million, which the artists are paying out of money they earn from the sale of art created by Christo.

    "Their second gift, which will benefit New Yorkers for years to come, is an exclusive, world-wide, royalty-free license empowering a not-for-profit foundation to use the artist's intellectual property rights from The Gates to create public awareness of the importance of nurturing the nature of New York for the health and well being of the city's inhabitants."

Don't miss the slide show. And, last of all, compare how effectively all this transports you to the scene to how well some of the religious paiantings on last week's issue (which I got up late, sorry) transports you to a different spiritual place, at least to a space where you can begin to imagine what those who follow that religion experience through it.

NEWS, Announcements, and

Current Discussion Topics:

Sorry I missed everyone last week. I was in the car at the bottom of the hill, when I realized I was in no shape to drive in. I came back home, called Betty and Pat, and went straight to bed and slept the whole day. The next day Arnold had what he thought was a sty, and his right eye swelled up. Thursday we got him to the doctor's. It was an allergy. We have no idea what happened. But we both seem to have recovered. Tragedy is that this week I have to go to Monterey For the Capital Defense Seminar. It's part of my legal education. Thought I could come in Tuesday, but it turns out we both have dentist's appointments that day. I promise I'll see you when we get back. And I'm trying to fix the computer glitch.

On March 4, Pat and Arnold and I are going to San Diego to hear Jurgen Habermas, after whom our site is named, speak. Pat has all the information, and will put it up on transform_dom for you. You are welcome to join us there. It's in the evening.

  • Home Page for transform-dom You can read all the messages on Transforming Dominant Discourse from this page. Just click on messages in the left hand frame. You can read the messages, even if you're having difficulty signing up.

    Syllabus for Independent Study: Religion as a Present Social Issue January 30, 2005.

    Learning Records from Spring 2005 Just started, on the basis of transform_dom discussions. This will take a while. I didn't work on learning records with all the confusion at home this week. Will get back to it shortly. jeanne

  • Most recent list of Learning Records from Fall 2004

  • Instructions page for joining transform_dom and transspan

    Famous People We Should Have Heard Of, But Didn't.

      Want you to look at Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Unwrapped "This story by Nicole Plett was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 19, 1997." Two artists, Christo, and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, who was his manager until they decided that they were really both artists working together. Nice story. And a name in art you should know.

      "After years of masquerading as one artist (him) and one manager (her), the couple "came out" three years ago as two artists, and have corrected the attribution of all their works.

      "Why did this take so long? 'That was how we wanted it then,' replies Jeanne-Claude. 'We were not as old and wise as we are today. We didn't have the guts to tell the truth. Then it was hard enough for one Bulgarian refugee artist to be accepted in New York, two artists would have been harder.' "

    Jeanne's Lectures for Spring 2005

    • Fall 2004 Lectures in Chronological Order
    • Winter Break 2005 Lectures in Chronological Order
    • Spring 2005 Lectures in Chronological Order

    • Suggested titles for discussion group, so they'll come up in the archive search, which I am the first to admit I don't fully understand. But anyway, on Michael Jackson's case and the train wreck could we try:

      • See Message 2887 of tranform_dom.
      • Juries and celebrity - Subtopic. (like Michael Jackson or train wreck) Sort name of poster (like Jristen)
      • Juries and mental competence - Subtopic. (like Michael Jackson or train wreck) Short name of poster - (like Jason)
      • Juries and college education - Subtopic. (like Michael Jackson or train wreck) Short name of poster (like Taneisha)

    Visual Sociology:

    Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Unwrapped

    • "Christo and Jeanne-Claude call themselves environmental artists; artists who use both the rural and the urban environment to create temporary works of art. In place for just 14 days, their works are soon dismantled, their vast quantities of materials are recycled, and the land restored to its original condition.

      "We make temporary works of art of joy and beauty," says Jeanne-Claude exuberantly, in an interview from the couple's home office in New York. "We do them for our own pleasure and the pleasure of our collaborators." The artists do not take commissions or accept sponsorships of any kind.

      "We accept no volunteers. Everyone who works with us (except my mother) is paid," she continues. "We wish to work in total freedom," says Christo. "To keep that absolute freedom we cannot be obliged to anyone."

      "We work with no strings attached," says Jeanne-Claude, enjoying the irony of the completed thought. The "Wrapped Reichstag's" rich silvery fabric was secured with 51,181 feet of blue polypropylene rope.

      If you look closely at an art history survey text you may find Christo's earliest works from 1958, the year he arrived in Paris. His "Wrapped Bottle" and "Wrapped Can" are exactly that -- small everyday objects rendered disquieting and mysterious by the act of wrapping and tying them up.

      Although the monumental works that followed have been known for decades by the singular name Christo, the art has been a collaboration since 1961. That was the year Christo and Jeanne-Claude made their first temporary work, "Dockside Packages," in Cologne, Germany.

    Academic Support

    Using Academic Language Effectively

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

    and Careers

    • Resumes:

    • Letters of Recommendation:

      • Letters of Recommendation: How to get me to respond to your request. Many of you need letters. If you will follow this format, I can do them quickly and make them good.
      • Dog Letters If you do not give me adequate information, but do manage to get my attention, you may end up with a dog letter. That is a letter that says that you work well with people, that you are enthusiastic, that you persist at getting things done, and that everyone likes you. Of course, my dog gets along well with people, brings his ball to them, is enthusiastic, and persists at getting them to take his ball. Everyone likes my dog. That's a dog letter. It's so general it could be about my dog. jeanne

    That Was Fun! Sneaky Strokes and Flying Good Dogs

    Flying Dog is also a painting by Zhang Kai. Best I've every come across to illustrate our site with magic numbers and unicorns and whipped cream cats and now, flying dogs:

    Flying Good Dogs: Whenever something happens in class that works out well, that inspires you, that helps in studying, whatever, take a few minutes to send us an e-mail. We'll post it where all of us can learn from it, including other teachers.

    You can also send an email to the Who to Take Site: