While walking from an artist’s studio to Telescope, my exhibition space in Beijing, recently, I passed by Ai Weiwei’s studio. As I crossed his doorway he came out and almost ran into me. Parked on the sidewalk by his blue door was a bicycle with a basket on the front loaded with fresh cut colorful flowers. In the middle of January in Beijing those flowers looked so gorgeous. It was Weiwei’s bicycle.
We stood over the basket as he freshened up the arrangement and chatted a bit. He said how the flowers were disappearing too fast and that he had hoped that they would last longer. I told him that when I was very young, living in Pacific Palisades, a woman on my street always kept a basket hanging next to her front door. She kept it full of candy for the neighborhood children. We would run to her house, but before we would get there we would all suddenly hide and freeze, afraid to actually go up to the mysterious door and get some candy. We smiled at each other then went our separate ways. –James Elaine