An artist’s rendering provided by Christo shows an image of a proposed art project that would suspend miles of silvery, translucent fabric above
An artist's rendering provided by Christo shows an image of a proposed art project that would suspend miles of silvery, translucent fabric above parts of the Arkansas River. (Associated Press file)
DENVER—At age 78, the artist Christo is busy with lectures and exhibitions around the world, even as he waits to fulfill his Over the River project in Colorado.

Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, have won state and federal permits to build Over the River, which would involve suspending nearly six miles of giant fabric panels from anchors and cables over parts of a 42-mile stretch of the Arkansas River next to U.S. 50.

Yet construction is on hold due to lawsuits challenging the approvals the project received. The lawsuits by Rags Over the Arkansas River contend Christo's project poses traffic, safety, economic and environmental concerns.

Christo is nevertheless staying busy. He arrived in Colorado this week for speeches Friday in Snowmass Village and Saturday in Telluride.

An exhibition centering on The Mastaba, a project Christo and Jeanne-Claude envisioned building some day in the United Arab Emirates, opened this month in Belgium. Another exhibit at Gasometer Oberhausen in Germany has drawn more than 250,000 visitors since opening in March.

Other exhibitions in Germany and Albuquerque, N.M., are scheduled in coming months.

The trim Christo, who was born in Bulgaria but lives in New York, regularly takes the stairs in his building and tends not to sit during long days in his studio. Jeanne-Claude liked to play non-stop Mozart in the office, Christo said, because she heard students' IQs improved when they listened to Mozart. He keeps a steady hum of news going in the studio.

He also likes to eat a bowl of yogurt each day, plus raw garlic.

"I eat very little during the day. When I work in the studio, I like to work with empty stomach because I am much more lighter," he said during a stop in Denver before heading to the Aspen area. "With (an) empty stomach, you're a little bit edgy, and sometimes not very nice. But I like that. Very energetic. I like to work in that way. In the studio, where I work a lot, I never sit. I stand, 10 to 12, to 14 hours a day because I like to walk all the time."

He declined to speculate when Over the River, in development since the 1990s, might be constructed.

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Catherine Tsai is on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ctsai—denver