Thursday, February 17, 2005
Saw "The Gates" this past weekend in Central Park. I have to admit, I wasn't especially moved, either in a good or a bad direction. I think the idea is supposed to be whimsical, but it's such a hypertrophied whimsy that it somehow doesn't play. I didn't feel like the gates "revealed" the park; if anything, they run contrary to Olmstead's spirit in that he tried to build a park where you'd get lost among the various forking paths, and the gates, by highlighting those paths in orange, make it much harder to get lost. And the appeal of the gates as a "happening" - lots of people in one place largely for the purpose of having lots of people in one place - is limited to me. I'm all in favor of communal civic events, even quirky/bizarre modernist ones; I am, for example, a big fan of Bloomsday, and try to celebrate it in some fashion annually, even if only by doing a bit of reading to the wife and drinking a nice glass of burgundy. But there should be *some* content to event in question, and I don't see that there is any to the gates.
And then there's the fact that, as a physical therapist my wife works with said, "they say it's supposed to be saffron, but that's not saffron: it's traffic cone orange!"
But, on the other hand, the whole business didn't strike me as in any way sinister, as it appears to have struck Myron Magnet. And the thing was paid for privately, and appears to have been executed with negligible environmental impact. And they didn't do anything to the gorgeous Olmstead-designed park in *my* neighborhood (Prospect Park). So while I'm not enthused, I'm also entirely unoffended. So if you enjoy walking around with a gazillion other people under blocky orange gates (they are supposed to look like overgrown slalom gates, though, aren't they? which means we should be going *around* them, right? whatever . . .) don't let me spoil your fun.