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The Central Park landscape - bracketed by Christo and Jeanne-Claude's 'Gates,' takes on vibrant color and verve

By , Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

Reactions from New Yorkers and visitors to "The Gates" project in Central Park run the gamut from joy to ambivalence, apathy to mild disapproval. The artists - Christo and Jeanne-Claude - have indicated they welcome every response; the interpretation of the 7,500 saffron-colored banners in the park is left completely up to viewers. As is true with other works of contemporary art, people get out of it what they bring to it.

"It's like a gift," says New Yorker Stuart Bridgett. "It's like someone came along and dressed the park up for you." Next to him, Krissa, his wife, is equally impressed. "I think they're beautiful," she says of the 16-foot-high stands adorned with bright saffron panels. "The simplicity is really cool."

Sabrina Jones, an artist from Brooklyn, disagrees. "I don't really like orange," she says. "[It] is the color of alarm, like the cones they put out [on the street]."

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For Robert Huebner from Philadelphia, "The Gates" elegantly blend in with the natural environment. "I wish I could see it from above," he says while on a stroll. "I love the color and the way it brightens up the trees that have lost their foliage."

Nadine Zukoski admits that she, like other New Yorkers, can be fickle. But that doesn't stop her from appreciating "The Gates." "New Yorkers are jaded. New Yorkers hate everything," she says. "I'll put aside that side of myself."

For some people, like Cliff Collins of New Jersey, "The Gates" were a tad puzzling. "I am not sure what to think about it. What does it represent? I don't know," he says. "The [artist] said on TV it's not supposed to represent anything. I'll take [her] word for it."

New Yorker Jack Durden says that he feels ambivalent. "Honestly," he says, "I don't know what to make of it yet. Right now, my impression of it is that it's vast. There is so much of it." The true beauty of "The Gates," Mr. Durden says, is not so much the art but in the way that the project draws people together. "It's just nice to see everybody out and about," he says. "For me, that is the nice part of it."

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