Highland Park (JM) - It's the last weekend for tourists and locals alike to visit 'The Fence' around Caldwell Park. The $1.1 million temporary art installation by Christo and Jeanne-Claude
is on display through Sunday.
The 620 feet of goldfish-colored, heavy-gauge, expanded plastic sheeting are staked to the ground with bright orange-capped, deformed steel reinforcing bars. After standing in stark contrast with the pale brown of the dead grass for most of the winter, springtime weeds and thistles are starting to soften the edges of the installation.
"The sight of so many visitors around Caldwell Park in mid-February has been nearly as thrilling as the art itself," said Melvin Miller, director of Birmingham's Department of Parks and Recreation. "Birminghamsters have been seeing Caldwell Park in a new way, discovering the unique beauty that distinguishes the park during the
winter, when it is surrounded by a protective border that discourages entrance."
The work, of a type known in the art world as 'landscape art', serves a dual purpose. By creating a brilliant edge, it helps delineate the separate public realms of 'park space' and 'street space' in a cunning tension. At the same time, according to Gail Trechsel, the R. Hugh Daniel Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art, the project allows for a 'perceptual connectedness', a frame through which the viewer can engage the space of the park visually without physically entering it.
Workers will begin taking down 'The Fence' on Monday, a process expected to last two weeks. The artists, who funded the project with a grant from Space One Eleven, plan to cut the fence fabric into individual small plastic hoops, which will be available for sale through their website. 'Fence-holes' will be priced at $100 and will serve as a sort of 'portable hole' to give the purchaser the opportunity to re-create, in small scale, the experience of 'The Fence' with any public park or green space.
Miller estimates that more than 5,000 people have passed around the park during the exhibits 8 month running time.