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He’s back! Christo wants to wrap a river

Artist, wife looking for right fabric to span several miles of the Arkansas
/ Source: The Associated Press

Christo and Jeanne-Claude are looking for just the right wrap for the Arkansas River.

The husband-and-wife team that decorated New York's Central Park with wind-whipped orange fabric spoke Tuesday to patrons here about the couple's desire to span miles of the river with woven fabric.

The two have worked on the project, "Over the River," on and off for decades and described innumerable meetings with federal, state, county and local officials, along with private property owners in Colorado.

"We know more about everything through the permitting process," Christo said at the Cleveland gathering. "Everything in the world is owned by somebody."

The Bulgarian-born Christo and his Moroccan-born wife have chosen a river location near Canon City, Colo. It was selected, they said, because of its rapids and access to roads and footpaths.

The project would hang for 14 days in midsummer, but perhaps not until 2009. Some Colorado residents worry the project would bring environmental problems, affect wildlife and cause tourism-led traffic backups.

The couple is still looking for just the right fabric flexibility.

"We don't want a trampoline, we don't want a balloon," Jeanne-Claude said.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude used a 45-minute slide show in the ornate Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, to illustrate their artistic odyssey.

The cost of the river project will be financed by the couple's sale of their prints and other art objects. The couple, who have hedged on the cost, do not accept commercial sponsors and said taxpayers won't be tapped to help pay the bills.