Those Orange Gates

I had the privilege of being able to tour the The Gates for a brief period this morning. It was a cold, rainy morning and there were not many people out but I loved the experience of walking underneath orange fabric and metal gates beneath the gray skies and the yawning chasm of Central Park near scraping residential buildings, ant-like tourists, and watchful watchers. For those outside NYC, a few great photos and some contextual ones can be seen.
I won’t repeat what has already been well noted about this project but I do have a few personal thoughts:

  • Before walking through, under, and beneath The Gates, I was looking for a reason not to like them. The money, the press, the privilege, the resources, the color orange — none of these fit the bill and so I don’t not like them.
  • One little mentioned note is that The Gates are actually of different heights and widths depending on the narrowness of the particular path or the way the trees or landscape or physical architecture lay. This lends itself to a bit to a feeling of disorientation as you walk beneath the structures and they change on you, irregularly.
  • I walked East to West. This seemed to be the way that Manifest Destiny works and I wanted to follow the multitude of paths that pushed me forward.
  • One sublime moment was experienced in looking up at The Gates as I was walking through them. I was focusing on the small squares that make up the tapestries and as I’d pass each draped one, I’d see the sky and the blurred orange of the next one, and so on. The tapestries bled together like streaming orange hair and I felt whole.
  • There were nice people posted every few thousand feet. Gates helpers armed with a long metal pole and a bright green tennis ball attached to the end. These helpers were gently keeping the tapestries flying.
  • The Park will feel empty when the minimalist heraldry is gone. But I visit it so rarely that it already feels that way.
  • Walking beneath The Gates in the rain, I felt somehow protected by them, held by them. At one point I was walking near Tavern on the Green and strayed from the “course” and was outside of the path lit by the tapestries. I felt exposed and walked back under The Gates. In the end, The Gates are a mild shelter from the storm of spectacles that encroach upon our commercial and political lives. They very temporarily gave me a respite from the mersh, the mess, and the madness.

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