In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the concepts of peace, love, alternative lifestyles, desegregation, equal rights, the environment, and “cosmic awareness” were brought to the forefront of American consciousness in the form of the “Hippie” movement.
From time to time I pause and wonder, what happened to all of those ideas and ideals, did we lose our way, and did we “sell out to the establishment?” Was the whole thing just an excuse for a big party and nothing more than that?
As is often the case, my answer came quietly one day when I was wandering the countryside. I came upon an old barn on an abandoned farmstead that, at one time, must have housed a small Hippie Commune or a something similar. Among other clues to the farm’s former existence, there was a Pop Art style mural on one of the barn doors and barn was surrounded by flowers of all colors. The barn was gradually falling apart and the mural had faded to the point that it was nearly gone, but the flowers were still going strong. I looked around and it dawned on me. The Hippie movement, like the mural, had faded away. However, the ideals and ideas espoused by the movement, like the flowers, are still with us. The methods of change were not those of violence and force, they were techniques of persuasion, integration, education, and enlightenment. We tried to change the social landscape by planting seeds, not bulldozing the landscape to match our desires. We tried to improve things by joining, and then reshaping, society. We realized it was not “Us” against “Them”… it was just “Us”.
These methods do not produce sudden overnight changes; rather the changes unfold slowly over time. Change that happens gradually is easy to overlook. It is only when you look at a snapshot of how things were then and compare it to a snapshot of how things are now that you realize that progress has been made.
In this painting, we see an old barn being overrun by flowers planted by the former occupants of the farm, a testament to the power of persistence and gentle persuasion…“Flower Power”.
Image and Text © James Golaszewski 2015