The Black Petals

The Black Petals

There is a lovely flower store across the street from my studio called Larkspur.  My friend, Beth Barnett, owns it.  Sometimes when it is gray and shitty in Chicago, which is about eight months a year, I go over there and marvel at the color and smell of her daily inventory of flowers and plants . . . it is one of those pleasures that I live for.  She has things other stores don’t–anemones, Vanda orchids, Calathea plants–the stuff nobody else much cares about.  This store is a revelation; it always cheers me up.  I bought a Calathea plant there last week because I wanted to draw its black and purplish leaves.  It is from Brazil and is often a mourning plant, a plant given at times of death, much like the Irish giving lilies.  I thought it perfect for the mournful and autumnal life of Crazy Horse.  Black petals as deep and rich as crude oil, or night in the Badlands.  Calathea does not grow within 2,000 miles of the Black Hills, yet somehow, it is fitting.

I was in New Orleans last week where everything grows and overgrows; flora and fauna incessantly trying to reclaim the place.  I was there for these panels sponsored by Louisiana Artworks, speaking to young (and some not so young) artists about how to enter the world as artists.  I became acquainted with some wonderful emerging talent that really deserves a bigger audience.  I was touched at how, in the middle of the shittiest art-economy I can remember, these kids were full of optimism, energy and desire, how they evince an undefeated kind of spirit in the face of no small amount of adversity.

I came back to a Chicago in the full thrall of autumn with the trees and bushes changing colors; gorgeous fiery yellows and russet reds, burnt ochres and umbers and oranges.  This city is never more beautiful than in the fall.  Soon it will be time to turn the clock back and it will be dark at 4:30 in the afternoon, which will bum me out.  I don’t get Daylight Savings.  What the fuck are we saving it for?  Autumn is sad in the same way finishing a good book is, you don’t want it to end.  Winter is cruel in Chicago and at times it is easy to believe that cruelty is the true nature of this city’s heart . . . it can be a heartless motherfucker.

Published in: on October 28, 2009 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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