I had a little moment last night upon looking out my window to find my usual surroundings transformed by the first real snow of winter.
Genuinely moved, I found myself thinking about Christo, the artist. I’m not talking about those orange flags in Central Park or the huge umbrellas in CA, but the old school wrapped-up stuff. I wish I had been around to see this building he wrapped in NY:
And I am so obsessed with his wrapped trees that this print hangs in my office:
Of course, he is cool because he goes to great lengths—spending huge amounts of his own money and navigating complex webs of bureaucratic permissions—to make surreal public art that is controversial and, above all, fleeting.
But more than that, Christo slams me in the gut with the massive scale and sheer weirdness of his projects. The secret majesty of his wrapped trees is in how they make you see what is familiar with fresh eyes. His wrapped buildings reinvent the landscape of a workaday world where routine and petty miseries inevitably wear away our wonder; his version offers surprises and has a sense of humor.
That is the real reason I love Christo—he brings out in me the reluctant optimist. (Also, I once read that he snacks all day on garlic cloves that he pops like candy. That just sealed the deal.)
And this is why I’m willing to risk cliché by writing about the beauty of snow
this brief instance, before I have to cope with all the unpleasantness of a Chicago winter and the fashion crimes it will make me commit, when I marvel at my city’s still beauty...this unexpected reminder that the world, though somber, is not yet spoiled.
As I was leaning out of my window for the pictures I noticed that someone made a snow angel in my courtyard.
It might have been that squatter in my laundry room, but I was charmed all the same.