Miami-Dade County

1983: Christo pink fading into aquamarine

This story from the Miami Herald archives appeared on May 18, 1983.

Piece by piece and petal by petal, the bloom on those hot- pink, oversized water lilies symbolic of Miami's temporary courtship of contemporary art began to fade Tuesday.

At dawn, about 75 workers began pulling in huge sections of pink polypropylene surrounding the two northernmost islands in the artist Christo's Biscayne Bay collage.

Surrounded Islands — which took 30 months, $3.1 million, 10 permits, seven public hearings, four court appearances and 400 workers to create — will have vanished by sundown Friday.

"We will probably have one entire island done this afternoon and maybe two finished by this evening," said Sue Morgan, a Christo spokesman encamped at the group's Pelican Harbor project site.

Only about 75 workers — less than one-fourth the force needed to install the project — will be needed to dismantle it.

"We don't have to pull the fabric toward the shore anymore, which makes things go a lot faster" Morgan said. Depending on the size of the section, between 10 and 20 workers were needed to pull the polypropylene to each island during installation of the project.

After the pink fabric is unfastened from styrofoam beams floating 200 feet out from each island, the sections are towed to shore and rolled up in bundles, Morgan said.

Still unknown, is what is to become of the more than six miles of polypropylene that Christo used in the project. "We still don't know the answer to that," Morgan said. "It may be donated to an aviary."

Throughout early May, an army 400 strong worked diligently for a week, surrounding the last of 11 islands on May 6. Thousands of South Florida residents and tourists have gone out the last 10 days in helicopters, boats, cars and on foot to get a glimpse of the glowing pink canvas stretching across a portion of Biscayne Bay.

During the last two weeks, environmentalists reported that the project posed no problems for the area's plant and animal life.

"There have been no problems whatsoever that we've been able to document," said Ed Swakon, an official with the Dade County Environmental Resources Management team. "We noticed no change in the sea grass under the fabric as a result of the project."