Christo’s Running Fence Celebration – Washington, D.C.

Image of Jean Schulz and Christo

Photo by Baylor Anderson

Christo seemed to be glowing as he led us through the Running Fence exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on Thursday morning. Exactly at 10am he walked into the exhibition. Those of us gathered were a group of 20 or so, made up of sponsors of the exhibition and Sonoma County guests, including the families of the ranchers who cheered the unfurling of the fence almost 34 years ago.

Image of Christo at the exhibit opening

Christo at the exhibit opening

The exhibition was beautifully curated with large panels of the photographs by Wolfgang Zoltz, who was also there with his wife. The size of the panels, some in black and white and some in color, made you feel the size of the project.

There were also exhibition cases displaying cables and anchors, and a pole in the center of the exhibition with the rigging attached. Christo spoke with such fondness of each of the elements of the Fence—after all, they must have been in his dreams for many years while the project was going through the permitting process.

There were also interactive kiosks which allowed visitors to scroll through pages of testimony, and kiosks that allowed visitors to hear the voices of the ranchers’ families. Photos of the ranchers fill an end wall, looking like a wall of royalty.

Christo spoke of the temporary nature not just of the Running Fence but of all his projects. He said [I have to paraphrase because I couldn’t write fast enough] that childhood is temporary, and in fact all of life’s events are temporary. We have a poignancy for the past and an urgency to be present for these once in a lifetime events.

—Jean Schulz