FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2005
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG PRESENTS DORIS C. FREEDMAN AWARD TO NEW YORK ARTISTS CHRISTO AND JEANNE-CLAUDE
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today presented the 22nd Annual Doris C. Freedman Award to New York artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, creators of The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005. The Doris C. Freedman Award was established in 1982 by Executive Order, to acknowledge an individual or organization for "a contribution to the people of the City of New York that greatly enriches the public environment." It is dedicated to the memory and vision of Doris Chanin Freedman (1928-1981), a Director of New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as the President of the Municipal Art Society and Founder of the Public Art Fund. The Mayor was joined at the awards ceremony at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park by Deputy Mayor for Administration Patricia E. Harris, Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Central Park Conservancy President Doug Blonsky, Chief Engineer and Director of Construction for The Gates Vince Davenport, Project Director Jonita Davenport and members of the Freedman Family including daughters Karen Freedman, Nina Freedman and Public Art Fund President Susan K. Freedman.
"Doris Freedman left an indelible mark on this City and all New Yorkers have benefited from her vision," said Mayor Bloomberg. "I cannot think of more worthy recipients this year than New York artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who first imagined The Gates over a quarter of a century ago and never abandoned that dream. In the grand tradition of public art in this City, The Gates was an extraordinary display that enlivened our spirits and provided thought-provoking discussions for millions of viewers. The Gates impacted every borough of our City, attracting visitors from around the world, and highlighting one of our great public parks."
"Our aspiration to create a work of art in New York first began in the 1960s," said Christo and Jeanne-Claude. "Initially, we were most impressed by the City's skyline, but starting in 1969, while working far away from New York and thinking back on our town, New York City, our attention turned towards the vast flow of people walking through the streets. The resulting proposal was The Gates, a project directly related to the human scale, to be sited in Central Park, whose 843 acres are the ultimate locale for walking at leisure. We are ecstatic at the outcome."
The artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude were born on the same day, June 13, 1935. Christo Vladimirov Javacheff was born in Gabrovo, Bulgaria and Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon was born in Casablanca, Morocco. The couple first met in Paris in 1958, and in 1964 the artists and their son Cyril moved to New York City, which has been their home ever since. First envisioned in 1979, Christo and Jeanne-Claude's work of art, The Gates, Central Park, New York City 1979-2005, received permission from the City on January 22, 2003, and was on display from February 12 through 27, 2005. Over 4 million visitors flocked to Central Park, from across the globe, to experience The Gates. The largest work of public art in New York City history, The Gates consisted of 7,500 gates lining 23 of Central Park's 58 miles of paved pathways.
The Gates generated an estimated $254 million in economic activity for New York City. The full economic impact was felt not only in the area surrounding Central Park, but in hotels, restaurants, and cultural institutions across the City. NYC Economic Development Corporation estimates that more than 1.5 million visitors were from out of town - an estimated 300,000 of those were international visitors. Hotel occupancy in Midtown Manhattan rose from 74% at the same time last year to 87% during The Gates, and many restaurants and other businesses in the area reported increases in business of over 100%.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude financed the entire cost of The Gates and do not accept any forms of sponsorship. They also donated $3 million to the City for programs and operations both in Central Park and other City parks. The artists provided paid employment for 1,100 workers on the project, including nearly 700 New York City residents. The Central Park Conservancy worked closely with the artists and their workers at all levels to ensure the safe installation and removal of the project. The materials used for The Gates are being recycled at various locations in the United States. All proceeds from official merchandise benefited Nurture New York's Nature Inc., a non-profit organization supporting arts and the environment, Central Park and other New York City Parks.
For decades, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have inspired the world with their art, which has been displayed on four continents and seen by millions. Other works by the artists include Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin, 1971-95; The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975-85; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83; Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972-76; Valley Curtain, Grand Hogback, Rifle, Colorado, 1970-72; and Wrapped Coast, Sydney, Australia, 1968-69.
Past recipients of the Doris C. Freedman Award, many of whom attended this evening's ceremony: Richard Kahan, 2004, Edward I. Koch, 2003, The Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority, 2002, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, 1992, Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts and its Founder, Halina Rosenthal, 1991, Dancing in the Streets, 1990, Richard J. Haas, 1989, Studio In A School, 1988, Mark di Suvero, 1987, Margot Gayle and The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 1986, William H. Whyte, 1984, and Ronay Menschel, 1983. To mark the Award, artist Tony Rosenthal has contributed a maquette of his sculpture The Alamo, which was presented to Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
Edward Skyler / Robert Lawson (212) 788-2958
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