Images: Potent Portraits of Creative Expression

Images have a way of striking our emotions. Creativity is fueled. Emotions are stoked.

Some folks get upset, angry, sad. Others become calm, excited, enthusiastic, joyful.

Shock, horror, puzzlement, admiration.

Some find peace while others find fear. Art and photography have a way of doing this. Museums and art galleries tend to bring these feelings out in all of us.

These past few months I’ve come across a variety of different images, different ways of conveying creativity. Since that’s what this blog is all about, I thought I’d share  a taste of what I’ve viewed.

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“Pamela’s Voice” in Night Gallery

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Guggenheim Museum in New York, and, yes, even Rod Serling’s Night Gallery in your mind are fine examples of artistic and creative expression. Those of you outside the U.S. who may not be familiar with Mr. Serling may find this rather intriguing regarding the paintings featured in his Night Gallery.

 

A few weeks ago I wrote about a summer conference I attended at Houston’s Jung Center on Imagination. As they often do, the Center featured several paintings on display at that time. A few caught my eye for one reason or another. If you’d like more information about these images, please contact The Jung Center.

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“Chaos” – Margaret Wheeler (Grami)

I was struck by the vibrant colors immersed onto a dark background, but with areas of white and yellow stubbornly bursting through. I thought, “Chaos, indeed, but in a quiet, peaceful setting.”

 

 

 

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“Rising” – Kutani Village, Japan – Roy Spann

 

I just thought this was a neat photograph. Then, the more I looked at it, I thought . . . “Hmmmm, umbrellas in variety of colors . . . would make an interesting ad for Travelers Insurance.”

 

 

 

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“Protector” – Tamer Ghoneim

This reminded me of some very cool abstract art that Apple may have for a screen saver, very vibrant in colors – you can’t take your eyes off it. I couldn’t. It’s actually a photo print on metal.

 

 

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Part of the Vanzant Driver presentation, “The Street of Heaven Was As Glass”

 

Vanzant’s discussion was intriguing on “The Visionary Imagination” alongside Jay Wehnert. This illustration was one of several artistic expressions presented that challenged the “boundaries of the imagination.”

These next two images below were not part of the Jung Center’s exhibit, but two very different photographs that caught my eye.

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Iconic Statue on the Notre Dame campus

This first one was sent to me from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN as part of a Thank You for supporting the university.

It captures one of the iconic statues on campus during Winter with the Golden Dome peaking out from the background. Note the areas of snow  acting as “winter eyebrows.”

This second one was an ad I saw in a publication, Arts+Culture, based in Dallas, Texas. It’s one fine publication covering the arts and culture scene in Texas.

The photo immediately captured my attention because I wasn’t sure if I saw what I thought I saw: A young girl “shooting the bird.” Then I read the caption: “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” Thomas Jefferson said that and I’m inclined to agree.

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“Nic Noblique – Sculptor” – photo of Azo by her mom, Audra Sewell Noblique.

The ad is for Nic Noblique -Sculptor. When I emailed Nic for permission to run the ad featuring his daughter, he told me the ad had received quite a few comments and he’d gotten good response from it. The photo, taken a few years ago when Azo was seven (she’s now 12), afforded their daughter the opportunity to flip the bird and “get it out of her system.”

I applaud both Nic and his wife Audra, not to mention their daughter, for having the guts to run an ad like this, and Arts+Culture Magazine for having the maturity to approve it for publication.

Art is a very subjective medium. Advertising can be as well. Both can be perplexing. As varied as our society is today, so are the images we confront.

Kudos to the creatives and artists who continue to push the envelope with taste and style and who entice our imagination and intrigue our minds.

And a thank you to those museums and galleries who think enough of the contributions to our collective, creative universe to exhibit and publish these works.

To the creators, go the spoils.

To the viewers, go the enjoyment.

To everyone, onward. Create!

Advertising Hall of Fame Quotes-Part 7

As it’s been some time since I last submitted for your amusement various illustrious quotes, I thought I’d showcase the seventh in a series of various worth-remembering “sayings” which I find interesting and inspiring, and, hopefully, you will, too.

Mostly excerpted from the newsletter “Smart Brief” from the American Advertising Federation, these quotes are usually from a member of the Advertising Hall of Fame but not all.

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61. All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.

— William Bernbach

62. Plan the sale when you plan the ad.

— Leo Burnett

63. When a client comes to us with a product, he is, in effect, giving us a problem to be solved. … Some of the biggest advertising mistakes are people who imagine they know what the problem is, or they’re not even thinking about; they’re just coming up with that brilliant idea and trying to force the problem to fit it.

— Mary Wells Lawrence

64. In good times, people want to advertise; in bad times, they have to. (Note: Doesn’t mean they realize this, however.)

— Bruce Barton

65. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

— Samuel Beckett (could have been in the Hall of Fame in his time)

66. The agency’s account executive should be able to step into the sales manager’s shoes if the sales manager drops dead today.

— Morris Hite

67. I am one who believes that one of the greatest dangers of advertising is not that of misleading people, but that of boring them to death.

— Leo Burnett

68. We simply cannot allow the First Amendment to be legislated away. If we ever compromise, we’ve sold out the industry’s future and made fools of those who shaped its past.

— John E. O’Toole

69. A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.

— David Brinkley

70. Nothing comes merely by thinking about it.

— John Wanamaker

Got a favorite? Lemme know.

The Boundaries of the Imagination

Are there any?

That’s what a recent weekend conference at The Jung Center on Montrose in the Museum District here in Houston explored. What did we come up with? Jury’s still out.

The Boundaries of the Imagination

I’ve been to only a couple of seminars at The Jung Center over the years and, coincidentally, both had to do with imagination as it relates to imagery and creativity.

Both were also moderated by my friend, Felix Scardino, author of The Pebble and the Canyon.

Now, I’m not a therapist nor do I have that type of background, although I have spent years in the advertising and creative industry so, I suppose, there are some who would say I’ve been in therapy all these years!

This special summer conference, The Boundaries of the Imagination, intrigued me.

When I reviewed the list of speakers for this weekend conference, I’ll admit to not knowing any of them. Yet, I anticipated the experience, the topics. I also assumed I would be in the minority; I am not a therapist or a psychologist. I’m just a curious creative.

Friday night began with a lecture from Jeffrey Kripal, PhD, past chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. His lecture, “When the Imagined Is Not Imaginary,” seemed to center on the evolutionary goal of imagination. Quite extraordinary.

Though it was a very thoughtful discussion, it really got down into the “imaginary weeds” for this listener. When Jeffrey mentioned the term “imaginal,” he went on to define it according to one Mr. Frederick Myers as “imagination on spiritual steroids.”

According to Frederick Myers, imaginal is defined as “imagination on spiritual steroids.”

HELLO!  Spiritual steroids? I’m not sure what the hell that means but it grabbed my attention.

Saturday morning’s session, “The Street of Heaven Was as Glass,” was a conversation between Jay Wehnert (right, below) of Intuitive Eye, his arts organization founded in 2011, and Vanzant Driver (left, below), a Houston-based artist whose work  is included in The Menil Collection.

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This conversation was a highlight for me personally just to listen and observe. One of the observations from Vanzant really touched my spirit – “Inspiration is the medicine for the soul and creativity.”

DAMN!

“I can’t wait to inspire somebody,” Vanzant said. “This should be what gets you up everyday.”

Inspiration is the medicine for the soul and creativity – Vanzant Driver

Since different attendees would no doubt mention other things that got their attention, I won’t attempt to cover everything from that weekend. My thoughts and impressions are my own. So are my dreams and my imagination.

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There will also be other blog posts, I’m sure.

As a photog-hobbyist, I couldn’t help but capture one of my conference colleagues chatting with Vanzant about her artwork in abstract visualization (I think that’s what she called it). Her paintings are hanging in back of her and Vanzant.

According to Vanzant, the philosopher, “the most powerful things in the universe are things you can’t see.”

We sometimes forget this. Hmmm, let me rephrase that . . . we rarely remember this!

 

Before we wound up our weekend conference, I participated in one last exercise. I played in the sand. Well, I had my own sand trap, er, tray. I even got to select as many toys, er, symbols, as I could carry.

But before that, I closed my eyes and “became one with the sand.” I moved my hands around the sand and just had fun, like the little kid inside me did many years ago, both on Lake Charles (LA) and Galveston beaches.

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“Playing in the Imagination” was what we did under the watchful eyes of Michele Lees, a depth psychotherapist in private practice in Houston with emphasis and training in Jungian psychology. And, evidently, one helluva sand castle builder!

Each one of the objects in my sand tray above represented something to me; some of them really did “call out to me” to be chosen, just as Michelle advised they would.

In case you can’t quite make it out, that is indeed a sleigh sitting within the branches of the Christmas tree . . . on a beach next to a treasure chest near a beached boat. The symbolism I was feeling that Sunday morning was both of fond memories and sadness (note the half buried Eiffel Tower near the voodoo doll), and, well, use your imagination to figure out the rest.

The entire weekend was like nothing I had experienced before. Not being a therapist, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Being of the creative bent, I anticipated exploring my imagination in ways I had not, uh, imagined before.

Presenters to 2016 Summer Conference at Jung Center

Each one of the “speakers, therapists, authors, experts” were enlightening and, dare I say, imaginative. If you get the chance to hear one of these folks speak or present, go for it.

Have we been underestimating the power and reach of the imagination? Perhaps.

It is my firm belief that creativity is entrenched in our imagination. In fact, my favorite definition of imagination is “intelligence having fun.”

Yet, is imagination a location, an experience, a physical phenomenon? What is, as the brochure talking about this conference asks, its hidden power in a culture that tends to understand imagination as the opposite of reality?

Are there boundaries of imagination? If so, how many and are they truly discernible? What are the possibilities in exploring them and what do we risk?

What if we come to understand that imagination is reality?

What then?

Then, my friends, we come to grips with our emotions and, when we’re ready, if we truly are, we take another trek into the vast landscape of our own imagination to explore.

But be cautious. Rational thought may be cast aside; symbolism may take over. Creativity may be awakened. A new masterpiece may be unfolding right before your eyes.

Capture it, and enjoy . . . before it goes poof!

 

Editors Note: Those of you wanting to see Jay & Vanzant’s conversation can view it on YouTube.

‘Unfairy Tales’ Wins Cannes Grand Prix

This animated spot is simply awesome. And touching. And serious. And gripping.

It sort of grips you by the throat as you’re reaching for the Kleenex.

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Every so often I see a commercial or piece of design work that intrigues me or, in this case, stops me in my tracks. The photo still alone does that but the spot goes on to do more damage to my soul.

According to Advertising Age’s “Creativity,” 180LA and UNICEF have earned the Cannes Grand Prix for Good for the “Unfairy Tales” campaign, a series of films that first seem to start out like sweet kids’ stories but then take dramatic and, at times, terrifying turns when you discover the children are fleeing for their lives from war-torn Syria.

Among the stories were the tale above, “Malak and the Boat,” which chronicled a seven-year-old girl’s harrowing journey on the seas, and, at the end of the trip, is the only survivor of a boat that had been once full of her fellow countrymen.

Kudos to the men and women who had the guts to go forth with this message and for the artful way in which it was created and produced. While the animation brings a potent emotional punch to the stories, the appearance of the real-life protoganists at the end of each short really drives the point home.

Visually stimulating animation and poignant storytelling.

A powerful combination. We’d be well served to see more of this.

The short films mark the debut of UNICEF’s #actofhumanity global initiative, designed to promote positive perception of the tens of millions of refugee children around the world.

The Grand Prix for Good is chosen from all the Gold Lion-winning work that was created for charities or not for profit, as well as those with public service messages, with the exception of those awarded in Pharma, Health/Wellness, Innovation and Film Craft. Such efforts are not eligible for Grand Prix in their respective categories. The Titanium/Integrated Grand Prix jury determines the winner.

Nicely done and well deserved!

To Think, Per Chance To Create.

Something to ponder or just day dream about. Seriously.

To sleep, per chance to dream;

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To think, per chance to create

To write, per chance to make sense;

To be read or heard, per chance to be understood.

Oh, tis a wicked web we weave,

Were it not for words or deed,

Would the mind go where the soul doth lead?

Perish thy thought and free thyself from doubt,

On the edge of reality, solutions await.

Colorful Crayons

But, lo, what of even the simple idea?

Impactful creative is its nourishment to foster growth.

Yet, regardless of which crayon you choose,

The results can still be compelling.

 

“Frozen Thinker” graphic by Vasava

Hong Kong at Night! Inspiring.

This is just damn gorgeous. Hong Kong at night. Honoring LGBT.

I came across this photo somewhere on the internet and just had to grab it. I wish I knew the photographer!

Sometimes a photograph is all one needs to be impacted.

Breathe in the colors. Be inspired!

Hong Kong at Night in LGBT Colors