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Who is RunningFence-recycled?

In 2001 Dianne Smith of Fremont, California answered a compelling ad in the San Jose Mercury News that had been running for months. Fine art by such legendary names as Rembrandt, Chagall, Picasso and Christo were being sold off by a lifetime collector who wanted to liquidate his entire collection. When she drove to a warehouse in Santa Rosa, California to look at the art, she discovered one of the most intriguing persons she would ever meet, an 81-year-old connoisseur of fine art named Paul DeBernardis. He had no family and no heirs, but an extensive fine art collection accumulated over forty years. Paul had terminal bone cancer, and was in the process of selling all his possessions before the disease finally incapacitated him.

DeBernardis’ collection included eleven panels from Christo’s historic “Running Fence” art installation of 1976. The panels were huge, eighteen feet tall and sixty-eight feet wide, made of white nylon woven in a squared pattern and grommetted on the sides. Running Fence was twenty-four miles long, crossing highway 101 and ranchland before plunging into the Pacific Ocean, generating much controversy and international attention before being immortalized in art history. Christo had given all fence materials, including the panels, to the ranchers who had allowed him the use of their land, but almost all had become lost through the years. DeBernardis had been collecting any panels he could find for the purpose of turning them into small, saleable artworks. As far as he knew, he had all that was left of the original 2,050 panels (The Sonoma County Museum subsequently acquired two, and later the Smithsonian Art Museum acquired two from Christo).

The idea interested Dianne, and she purchased the panels to fulfill Paul DeBernardis’ vision. She also received Christo’s book Running Fence; each copy has a sample of the panel fabric in its pages. The book is a collector’s piece in itself but also corroborates the claim regarding the original source of the fabric. She created RunningFence-recycled, LLC and then contracted with California artists to create art works from the panel fabric. The artists are from various backgrounds and each has the freedom to create whatever the muse inspires, and their only instruction is to make the textile into interesting works of art that any collector would be proud to display in his home or office.

The result has been a panoply of unique and original works, as diverse as their creators, that are a wonderful addition to any fine art collection: fabric art, paintings, sculptures, assemblages, functional art and wearable art. We offer two-dimensional and three-dimensional artworks, wall hangings and fine craftwork items such as purses, tote bags, textile jewelry and belts. Each piece is a unique collectible with a history and a story behind it, and each is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity verifying the source of the fabric as originating from Christo’s art installation in Northern California, the Running Fence of 1976.

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updated 11/16