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Artist Christo Rafts Down The Arkansas River

SALIDA, Colo. (CBS4)- The artist Christo took a rafting trip down the Arkansas River, the same location he has planned to make the centerpiece for his next art project.

Christo envisions suspending 5.9 miles worth of shimmery fabric panels over parts of a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River traced by U.S. 50 in southern Colorado. Work to erect the piece, including installing the anchors and cables to hold the fabric, would unfold over about 28 months.

Christo Arkansas River
The artist Christo takes a rafting trip down Arkansas River (credit: CBS)

"You can see through the fabric, the clouds, the contours of the mountains, actually much more saturated, like sunglasses," said Christo.

He calls the project "Over The River," and it has gotten mixed reviews and spurred lawsuits meant to keep it from being realized.

Christo has been hosting town hall style meetings in towns along U.S. 50 that would be impacted by his project. He is telling attendees that federal lawsuits are holding up the project. Once those wrap up it will still be several years of work before the project is ready.

An artist's rendition of what Christo's project "Over the River" will look like. (credit: CBS)

"We need to install many things, we need to install anchors for the cables," said Christo. "We need at least three years before the exhibition."

Despite planning Over The River for several years, this was the first time Christo has rafted the river.

"First time enjoying the rafting on the river, we've never been rafting before, only crossing the river on the way to work," said Christo.

"Today we get to do something special, today we actually get to experience the river for what it truly is," said Echo Canyon River Expedition guide Andy Neina.

The conditions of the river would be similar to when the exhibit is on display.

"The exhibition time of the project is slated to be the first two weeks of August in summer," said Christo.

"I personally look at the Arkansas as the canvas for where this project will be painted," said Neinas.

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