Artist Christo speaks at a press conference unveiling two original preparatory collages for 'Over The River' on Nov. 8, 2011 in Washington, DC.
Riccardo S. Savi—Getty Images
By Melissa Chan
January 26, 2017

An artist who has devoted more than two decades and $15 million to creating an ambitious public artwork over a river in Colorado has decided to abandon the project in protest of President Donald Trump.

The 81-year-old artist, Christo, had wanted to drape a nearly 6-mile long silver canopy over the Arkansas River in Colorado after conceiving the vision in 1992 with his late wife. But now that Trump runs the country, and is therefore tied to the project’s federal land, Christo told the New York Times that the “pleasure is gone.”

“I am not excited about the project anymore,” he said. “Why should I spend more money on something I don’t want to do?”

Christo, right, and his partner, Jeanne-Claude, are shown during a press conference for their exhibition "Over the River, A Work in Progress" at the Fondation de l'Hermitage in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Feb. 11, 2009.
Dominic Favre—AP

Christo, who did not immediately return a request for comment, has been facing legal battles in state and federal court over the project, Over The River, for at least five years. A group of people in Colorado who opposed the project argued that it would threaten wildlife.

Christo said in a statement on his website Wednesday that he doesn’t care anymore if he wins his case. “I no longer wish to wait on the outcome,” he wrote, adding that he will now put all of his resources into a project in Abu Dhabi.

“I have been fortunate to work with many dedicated Colorado residents as well as federal and state agencies who have been a part of Over The River. I am grateful to everyone who was part of this journey,” he added.

The Colorado project included temporarily draping 5.9 miles of “silvery, luminous fabric panels” high above the river, according to the artist’s website.

A slideshow of "Over The River" is shown by Christo at an evening lecture sponsored by the Women's Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland on May 23, 2006.
Jason Miller—AP

The Bulgarian-born Christo told the Times he pressed on with the project even through the election because he “never believed that Trump would be elected.” “I use my own money and my own work and my own plans because I like to be totally free. And here now, the federal government is our landlord. They own the land,” he told the newspaper. “I can’t do a project that benefits this landlord.”

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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