Sunday, February 13, 2011

Christo creating a buzz for public works

Photo Credit: Wolfgang Volz, 1983,
February 13, 2011
By Alexandra Figueredo

An excited chatter fills the crowded room as attendees anxiously wait to hear him speak. Internationally renowned, "Christo" has been attracting attention from his colossal public works for decades.

And there he is. Christo Vladimirov Javacheff, a gentle 75-year-old with disheveled white hair and large-brimmed glasses working feverishly to get his old-fashioned slide projector to “make focus” in Florida International University’s packed lecture hall.

Christo, along with his late wife and creative partner Jeanne-Claude, has spent half a century realizing over 20 monumental installations. Famed projects include erecting “The Gates” in New York City’s Central Park, surrounding several islands in Biscayne Bay with floating pink fabric, and wrapping cloth around Berlin’s Reichstag and Paris’ Pont Neuf.

So what is Christo’s agenda behind his massive projects? “My work is free, useless and irrational,” he said. In other words, he creates for the sake of creation, not to make a statement.

He stressed that he does not invent the politics nor the ecology of each project, rather it exists as an inherent part of the subject. For example, he intended to flaunt the underlying flatness of South Florida when wrapping the islands in Biscayne Bay. The “art” was the natural form of the islands, not the fabric.

Christo’s newest work in progress “Over the River” will suspend translucent fabric over a stretch of the Arkansas River in Colorado. The ideal view is from below while rafting along the changing course of the river. If all goes as planned, it will be completed and available for two weeks during 2012.

“Over the River” has been one of their most costly projects to date, with over $2 million spent thus far on pre-building costs. A substantial sum considering Christo and his team do not accept commissions, self-funding their projects based on sales of the drawings, collages and models of their works.

According to Christo, no one project has had the most significance to him and Jeanne-Claude. Rather he said each project has been “a slice of our life.” For instance, returning decades later to the Australian coastline they wrapped in the 1960s, they realized how crazy they were to embark in that installation which defined them and that era.

Christo has spent practically his whole life as an artist. Painting since he was six-years-old, it’s safe to say Christo followed his passion for art. The biggest problem is knowing what you like to do, he says, referring to aspiring artists.

When asked how he and Jeanne-Claude classified themselves and their art, Christo grinned and quoted his late wife, “Jeanne-Claude always used to say ‘Labels are good for wine, not for artists’.”  

*Article published on Link 

© 2011, Alexandra Figueredo
To contact the writer, please email her at alexandra@artistamundocom. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Key Biscayne's Art in Public Places works by Jose Bedia

By Alexandra Figueredo
While driving, biking or strolling down Crandon Boulevard in Key Biscayne, it is difficult to miss the colorful “mini plazas” located along the island’s main thoroughfare. These installations, collectively known as the Bedia Plazas, are named after artist Jose Bedia who designed them as part of the Village’s Art in Public Places initiative.
The Bedia Plazas highlight the fauna of the island and surrounding Biscayne Bay ecology. The artist fluidly blends images and text to feature various local creatures including the manatee, the manta ray, the anhinga bird, the butterfly and the barracuda. The dynamic and stimulating plazas create an interactive cultural experience by welcoming pedestrians to walk upon and enjoy the terrazzo floor murals.
Two new plazas are currently under construction with expected completion by early spring. The “Dragonfly Plaza” is situated near the pond north of the Library, and the “Pelican Plaza” graces the northeast corner of the Village Green.
Upon completion of the two newest Bedia Plazas, the Village will hold a formal dedication along with educational talks with the artist. In addition, a video series to be aired on the Village channel will chronicle the creation of the seven plazas with interviews of Bedia at the site of the various plazas and in his studio.

Bedia is an internationally renowned artist known for his works inspired by indigenous people. He has created other local public art works, most notably the centerpiece terrazzo floor murals and glass railings in the Adrienne Arsht Center.

For more information on Key Biscayne’s Art in Public Places, visit 

© 2011, Alexandra Figueredo
The above article appeared in Key Biscayne Magazine February 2011 edition. To contact the writer, please email her at