creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flowering Princes & Princesses Series

Ian MacKinnon - Flowering Prince (Click photographs for larger images)
April Hava Shenkman - Flowering Princess (Click photographs for larger images)

In honor of the Flowering Princes and Princesses within us (see last weeks post), I present a few of the first examples of an ongoing series. It starts by photographing some of my artistic friend/peers and then over 5 panels creating a sequence where flowers emerge that create some kind of pattern that has to do with each artist. I look forward to creating some more works for this series and exploring its evolution. They take a lot more out of me than I initially imagined (to separate each individual flower is very labor intensive), but worth the investment of time to watch the creative blossoms unfurl to life -  Hope you enjoy!

For April Hava Shenkman, we discussed using "party bouquet" flowers and morning glories (both her favorite kinds). Because April (profiled in a blog post last month) uses the theme of parties in her Happy Happy show and performances, I thought creating streamers of flowers photographed from party bouquets would be appropriate. Additionally, her hair is so unique and so I thought little morning glory buds popping out would be fun. She mixes curious, wistful, classy, and exhuberant poses - just like her performances.

For Ian MacKinnon, I thought creating a rainbow of flowers would be a great representation; he identifies as a Gay-Centered Performance Artist. His stage performances and wardrobe are usually very colorful with themes of empowerment, individuality and bold self-expression. But Ian is also very rooted in psychology, in sincerity, and his works often contain educational material or meaningful messages. So I wanted to start with a very blank, white canvas, and in rushes this festive explosion of color at first quite daunting and then shaped by Ian, which he has a very spiritual pose and then a flamboyant one.

The series started with Nathalie Broizat in December. Her series utilized a single red rose falling down from the sky and repeated over and over until it creates a pattern not unlike red polka-dots, which is a signature image and look in many of Nathalie's performance pieces.  It's a very restricted color palette, which I feel lends an refined, elegant touch befitting of the beautiful Nathalie.



Friday, May 20, 2011

The Flowering Prince - an intro to darkness & light

"Bouquet" 2008 - JJ

Spring is the perfect time to introduce the subject of flowering, metaphorically in artistic terms and in connection to our creativity. There really is no better teacher to admire for her abundant creativity than Mother Nature. Plants are among some of the greatest spiritual instructors, and I ask you now to stretch your imaginations and visualize the Flowering Prince/Princess that is within you.

The Flowering Prince is a mighty archetype found throughout the world, but by different names and in different forms. It’s connected to a concept very key to the idea of Your ReBegin, that of creative growth and rebirth, the cycles of life and death. While the name “Flowering” is very apt for the beautiful forms and manifestations that are pleasing to the senses, the archetype also deals with very dark themes as well. For there is no flowering without death. The Flowering Prince is always half alive or half dead (depending on if your glass is half full or empty). The cycle of life always includes death, but from the process of breaking down organic material, new life emerges. The key is to be fully invested in the process, honoring the necessary step that comes with any form of “death” and using it as fertilizer for the rebirth that will eventually come. The Flowering Prince always dies, again and again, but is eternal.

Perhaps the brand Ed Hardy is so popular is that its imagery taps into the Flowering Prince motif - death and flowering

So too we have creative cycles within us that go through these phases. By properly cultivating all our various forms of deaths, our troubles, our personal dramas, our defeats, our failures, our fears — we contribute to new ideas so that we can nourish ourselves and bloom again. The act of creating new work is akin to growing out new shoots and vines and the finishing of a work is unfurling a brand new flower into the light of day. 

We often confuse the creative process for something happy and charmed. On the contrary, the creative process is actually a very dark and scary thing. It’s full of angst, which is why creative blocks exist - they stop us from proceeding any further on the dangerous path. The path takes us into the realm of death and destruction. If we get lost in that space, it can be very damaging to the psyche and we refuse to go forward through any more of it. We stall and perhaps even stagnate. We need to rally our spiritual troops and figure out how to move forward through the darkness, through the process of decay and death, so we can use it as fertile material towards our creative blossoms. The HOW to proceed is the tricky part, and there are many methods, but not all of them work for everyone. Since we are individuals, we must recognize we all have different processes that work better for us than others.

You need to experiment with different methods until you find one that gives you results. A team/network of friends to support you during the process will help. Fellow artists (other Flowering Princes & Princesses) know what the dark journey is like and can be sought out to give those little pep talks and advice. It’s actually a very welcome thing, because I often find that as I share words of encouragement to friends, I am actually speaking to myself as well. So imagine yourself one of many Flowering Princes/Princesses in a beautiful garden. Just be careful you don’t compare yourself to other blooms; admire them for their intrinsic beauty of individuality (if they are being true to who they are), but avoid judgments!  This of course takes time to develop and figure out. Cross pollinate with other flowers and experience a bit of the magic that comes from being out in the world. Don’t steal ideas, but be nourished energetically by the essence of creativity shared.

And remember, "deaths" are a part of the path that will come again and again in various forms. Learn to make the most of its dark embrace. The refusal of its presence only prolongs the struggle , the proper process of cultivation can help you go deeper into the journey of life and eventually bring more aliveness to your blooms!

More to come honey-blossoms!

images of Xochipilli - the Aztec Flowering God - a fascinating figure on many levels

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cavafy Caress Photos by Martin Ledford

Following are a selection of the pictures of Cavafy's Caress taken on May 7th of the rehearsal and show by professional photographer Martin Ledford (

To view the full album click here: picasaweb -CavafysCaress
Featured in these pictures are Jason Jenn as Constantine P. Cavafy, Larry Levi as the Choregus (Greek Chorus Leader) and Kyle McMillan as the Vision of Youth and Beauty in Cavafy's Memory.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

ENCORE! A bit more about Cavafy's Relevance

Well, the creative honey continues to flow - as is appropriate in the blossoming springtime of May.

Cavafy's Caress had an encore presentation in Long Beach at the Affinity Gallery - May 7th at 6pm. As noted in many recent blogs it is an intimate exploration into the world and words of the remarkable poet who lived in Alexandria, Egypt most of his life from 1863-1933. Much of Cavafy's poetry is rich with the concepts of history, memory, and longing - as if the grand city itself, once home of the famed Ancient Library of Alexandria, infused its soul into his work. He was sensitive to the past greatness and reveled in moving among both the cities most vibrant and bustling areas, along with its cracked ruins and most seedy nieghborhoods. All of it comes through in ways that resonate with today's modern world: full of beauty and hope, chaos and uncertainty.

I had no idea going into this project just how deeply I would fall in love with his words. I've been intoxicated by the profound meaning he executes so elegantly. In many ways I feel a sense of relationship to him. One of those is that I have lived in the Los Angeles neighborhood of MacArthur Park for the past 6 years. While no Alexandria, it was once one of the most opulent and wealthy parts of the city, but after WWII and the overpowering force of cars spread people out, it collapsed. For a period of time gangs, drugs, and poverty reigned, but in recent years a revitalization has occurred that is still not fully realized, but yearning for it. I've documented my own exploration of the neighborhood for years and look forward to sharing more insights of its fascinating dichotomy.

A view of downtown LA from a hillside in MacArthur Park
It seems that Cavafy's works resonates with everyone in remarkable ways. Young and old, male and female, and of all sexual preferences enjoy the production. It is truly universal work. There is a reason why Jackie Onassis requested that one of Cavafy's greatest poems "Ithaka" be spoken at her funeral - because it captures a whole lifetime of experience and advice so elegantly. There is a reason that other respected writers, like EM Forster, WH Auden, Christopher Isherwood, and Gore Vidal, hold Cavafy's work in high esteem and praise. I have been graced by some beautiful comments from those who attended the original production and were equally moved by his works and the way the production presents them. You can read about them at the following link:

I am ever so grateful to Tony Clark of the Affinity Galleries and Stathis Orphanos, whose book and exhibition "My Cavafy" (with original photographs side by side with corresponding poetry by Cavafy) sparked this journey. I find myself excited by the opportunity to share this fantastic poet with more and more people as I continue my own exploration of the art of life. Having a guide and inspiration like dear Constantine has been such an unexpected, but most welcome blessing in my life at this time. I'm learning a lot from him, and it feels so good to focus on some one as remarkable as him and weave his essence into my own journey.