Posts Tagged ‘D.R. Gaul Middle School’


In Today’s News

June 1, 2020

Christo – an old friend

Yesterday, at his home in New York Christo, known for massive, ephemeral public arts projects died at the age of 84. My connection and admiration for Christo goes beyond seeing images of his work. I visited New York City in 2005 to view The Gates in Central Park – 7,503 fabric panels that Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude had installed. It was an amazing experience that I shared with my younger son and his friend on their first trip to New York when they were 14.

Several years ago there was an education director at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland who greeted my 8th graders with something I’ve repeated over and over. “When you visit the museum think of it as visiting friends. Each time you come, you will meet new friends and some of your old friends will be here to visit with again.”

At the Merrill Auditorium with Anne, Jean-Claude and Christo, 2005

It doesn’t matter which museum I visit, whether in Maine, out of state or in another country, I think of that story. This connection or friendship happens not only with art work but also with artists through reading and learning about their lives. And some of my “old friends” include Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

After that trip to NYC I collaborated with my colleague and friend, art teacher Anne Kofler and we “wrapped” our school in Union in celebration of Christo and Jean-Claude’s visit to Maine. They spoke at the Merrill Auditorium in November 2005.

Before our visit Anne and I had our K-8 students from Union Elementary and D.R. Gaul Middle School create artwork on 3″x12″ white drawing paper using black sharpies. They started with their names in the center and went around and around with contour lines. Every student and staff member participated with the idea that everyone has an important part in the school community (and world) and that each of our parts are important to the whole. Without everyone doing their part there is a hole. I’ve had that same feeling recently.

We exhibited the student (and staff) artwork each touching and lining the walls up and down the steps, wrapping the entire building. We contacted Christo and Jean-Claude letting them know of our work and invited them to school while in Maine. Sadly, they weren’t feeling well but Jean-Claude called the school to let us know they had received our invitation and with regrets could not visit.

Student installing the wrapping of Union Elementary and D.R. Gaul Middle Schools, 2005.

Anne and I made a book to illustrate what we had created at school and the impact it had on our students. We attended the presentation that night at the Merrill and hopped into the line where attendees were having their posters signed by the artists. We presented the book to them – it was a special night to remember.

Along with his late wife Jeanne-Claude, the artists careers were defined by their ambitious art projects that quickly disappeared soon after they were erected. They never used any government funding to support their work. In 1991 they self-financed their $26 million “Umbrellas” project in which they installing 1,340 blue umbrellas in Japan and 1,760 blue umbrellas in Southern California.

Christo’s next project, L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, is slated to appear in September in Paris as planned.

Sadly Anne is gone having passed in May of 2016. Jeanne-Claude died in 2009 at 74 years old and now I say so long to my old friend, Christo.

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