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Bloomberg Welcomes ‘Gates’ to New York

February 11, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) _ The final word on ``The Gates,″ the huge Central Park art installation opening Saturday: Everything is groovy, man.

``Welcome to New York, and let your mind expand,″ Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday at a news conference with artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, welcoming media from around the world to Manhattan for an exhibit more than a quarter-century in the making.

The artists offered similar ’60s-style responses to questions about the project, which will feature 7,500 fabric-covered gates spread across 23 miles of Central Park’s footpaths.

``What is on the other side of the gate?″ asked Jeanne-Claude. ``Whatever people wish. Anything. It is just walking from one gate to another, inside, experiencing a work of art.″

The exhibit, using more than 1 million square feet of saffron-colored fabric, will remain in the park for 16 days. Its official title _ ``The Gates, Central Park, New York, 1979-2005″ _ refers to the vision first conjured by the artists 26 years ago.

Although the pair had invested so much time and effort in the project, they were reticent to discuss ``The Gates.″

``It’s very difficult,″ explained Christo. ``You ask us to talk. This project is not involving talk. It’s a real, physical space. It’s not necessary to talk. You spend time, you experience the project.″

Each gate will rise 16 feet high, with the wind and the billowing fabric creating ``a visual golden river″ in the park, according to the artists’ Web site.

Bloomberg is a longtime proponent of the installation. The artists picked up virtually every expense, Bloomberg said, from security to clean-up to recycling the materials used.

The cost could climb as high as $21 million.

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