Many of you may recall the Valley Curtain project, the temporary work of art that Christo and Jeanne-Claude completed at the Rifle Gap in Colorado in 1972. There has been a great deal of misinformation about this project from those opposed to Over The River,with some claiming that the artists did not adequately clean up after the project was finished, and others going so far as to say that they left the area in complete disarray. The Cañon City Daily Record wrote an excellent article about this issue, and we encourage you to read it here.
We wanted to share with you a letter we recently received from the private land owner who leased his property to Christo and Jeanne-Claude to host the Valley Curtain project more than 30 years ago. His name is Lloyd Wilson, and he was so dismayed to hear the falsehoods regarding Valley Curtain that he felt compelled to set the record straight. His letter can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.
In the letter, Mr. Wilson states: “In no way did Christo and Jeanne-Claude trash the area. They signed an agreement to restore the land to its original condition and that is exactly what they did. The artists are people of their word. When they say they will do something, they will.”
Mr. Wilson also addresses the concrete foundations that remain on the property to this day. He states that “all four property owners did indeed sign an agreement that the land was to be returned to its original condition after the removal of all materials. However, (we) specifically requested that Christo and Jeanne-Claude leave the concrete foundations…. We all enjoyed the Valley Curtain so much that we wanted a piece of this history to stay behind after the project was completed.”
Regarding the controversy that comes along with all Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s works of art, he says, “Many of the people in Rifle were against the Valley Curtain project at the beginning. But they saw the way the artists listened to our concerns and the responsible manner in which they built the project. By the time it was done, almost everyone in our community was an enthusiastic supporter.”
Mr. Wilson is not alone in his sentiments. Our website also has a letter from the former mayor of Rifle, Mr. John Scalzo. He also describes what a wonderful experience the project was for the community of Rifle, writing, “As Mayor of the City of Rifle and a Chamber of Commerce member during the project, I can truly say that we could not have been able to pay for all the good publicity we received for the two years that it took to put up the Curtain. We still have inquiries regarding the Valley Curtain from our visitors from all over the United States and from foreign countries who are familiar with the artists’ work.”
At the time of the exhibition, the Rifle City Council was so supportive of the project that they presented Christo and Jeanne-Claude with the keys to the city as well as a plaque that called the project “a pure and beautiful tribute to the imagination of man.” On the 25th anniversary of the project, Colorado State Parks dedicated a park to the artists at the site of the Valley Curtain, and the Rifle City Council passed a resolution commemorating Christo and Jeanne-Claude for their efforts — they even named the artists honorary citizens of Rifle.
We hope that this helps to clear up some of the false information about Valley Curtain. To read other statements from people who have experienced the artists’ previous works of art, please click here.