While I love all spring flowers, I think my favorite is the Peony. It used to be lilacs, but that was youthful romance, and they now elicit a tiny tinge of morbid nostalgia. But the peony - even when white, or the palest pastel pink, is a little bit naughty. Certainly flirtatious, peonies possess a joie de vivre that not even exquisitely controlled Chinese painting can keep in check. When you invite them into your home, like the Trojan horse, they release their hidden delegation of ants. Peonies are a bit subversive.
Some friends and I had dinner at a former professor’s home recently. The bucolic landscape, some wonderful food and her giant intellect generated great conversation. She has always stressed the importance of social action, participation and activism, but on a personal scale. The professor asked us if an artist had to make political art to be subversive. My answer was no. I believe that the choice to make art - if it even is a choice - goes against the grain of the general population. It’s a choice that often commits one to a life contrary to everything the rest of the world is seeking: wealth, security, comfort.
It’s a difficult choice, especially in a world where the individual is marketed to 24/7. The payoff is a stunning level of intellectual freedom. And, in the end, artists will not have dumped countless gallons of oil into the Gulf, created a subprime mortgage bubble, hedged on the bets of others’ failure, or created a worldwide financial collapse. And that’s fine.