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'Running Fence' at 33

  • Folks gathered with Christo and Jeanne-Claude at Bloomfield Park in Bloomfield to remember the public art project of 1976, The Running Fence, Saturday, September 12.

Thirty-three years after ?Running Fence? electrified Sonoma County and the world, Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude returned Saturday to revisit the landscape their art briefly transformed in September 1976.

At a picnic in a Bloomfield park organized by documentary filmmaker Wolfram Hissen, Christo and Jeanne-Claude were swarmed by well-wishers, autographing books and photographs and reminiscing with those who helped make Running Fence a reality.

?There will never be another Running Fence,? Christo said, his wild gray hair blowing in the West County breezes that once brought his 2,050 nylon panels billowing to life.

Remembering Jeanne-Claude

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That?s not a statement of preference, just of fact. The fence remained in place for just two weeks, was unique to its location in Marin and Sonoma counties, and will never be repeated, he said. He regularly gets requests from cities or organizations to replicate his works in other places, but that misses the point. The transitory nature of the art is what makes it so powerful, he said.

?A project of this kind is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,? he said. ?You will see it, and if you don?t see it, you will never see it again.?

Many call Running Fence one of the most influential art projects of the 20th century. George Gurney, deputy chief curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, said it was certainly one of the most successful.

Gurney was amazed Saturday by how many people said viewing Running Fence changed the way they looked at the landscape forever.

?Somehow, his art, his creation, was able to affect them in a way those (traditional) ?artists? could not,? Gurney said.

Gurney is organizing an exhibition called ?Running Fence at 33,? set to open next April. The documentary film is part of that exhibition.

The fence might never have gotten off the ground if it weren?t for Lester Bruhn.


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