‘The Gates’ could dress up dry lakes

'The Gates' could dress up dry lakes by Robert F. Karolevitz Now that "The Gates" are gone from New York's Central Park, I have an idea of what to do with those 7,532 orange panels.

My proposal is: we could unveil them on the Missouri River lakes to brighten up the declining waters after the drouth of the past couple years.

The Christo and Jeanne-Claude creation � with the Hare Krishna colors � might just calm the walleye fishermen who can't get their boats into the water. Or the environmentalists who are worried about the nesting habits of the piping plovers or the least terns.

Art (at least that's what some folks call it) on the river would be a welcome departure from the Lewis and Clark expedition which was a big thing in 2004. It's too bad, though, that the gaudy clothesline couldn't be hung up then to commemorate the voyage of the Corps of Discovery through South Dakota.

But that's behind us now. There has to be another reason for "The Gates" to festoon our Great Lakes � and the drouth could be it.

Of course the barge people would want to get in on the act, too, but they don't need a spirit-lifting antidote like we do. They've got Congress and the Corps of Engineers on their side, or at least it seems like it.

On the other hand, I'm afraid that the barren stretch between Pierre and Mobridge would not get the attention that the Central Park exhibit did. There aren't many people at Bush's Landing, East Whitlock and Dodge Draw.

Then again "The Gates" (not to be confused with Bill) would be a publicity coup for our state. It (or they) might even rival the Badlands or the faces at Mount Rushmore, for a time anyhow.

Except for a few old soreheads who thought the garish display despoiled Central Park, they say the cavalcade of color brought joy to most New Yorkers who were down-in-the-mouth for one reason or another.

(Just living in that concrete jungle would be cause enough � but that's a true South Dakotan talking.)

I don't suppose the creators of that saffron-colored what-chamacallit would be interested in decorating our receding lakes, though. They've got the Grand Canyon in their sights, but somebody should tell them there aren't many people out there either.

It's probably a good thing that I didn't go see "The Gates" during their two-week run in Central Park. Most likely I'd have been among the detractors because it didn't seem like art to me. But that was before I came up with my Great Lakes idea.

Now, however, I've got a whole new feeling about it (or they). No longer is it a glorified waste of colorful cloth, but an artsy display with a purpose � that is, if it shows up on our prairie.

I'm not holding my breath, though. I've had other ideas which didn't fly, so I'll just have to wait to see if it works out.

However, if "The Gates" were good enough for New York, they (or it) should be good enough for South Dakota, too.

© 2005 Robert F. Karolevitz

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