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Jerry Wennstrom Interview : Page 3 of 3

Author and Artist
Jerry Wennstrom

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The Inspired Heart by Jerry WennstromA: There are so many things stirring it is difficult to say what's next. My most recent involvement is the new audio version of my book The Inspired Heart. I have been working closely with Wetware Media, the distributor of the audio book, to create a more interesting than usual product. I do the basic reading for the audio book and I have included several other unusual touches.

With the voice of a radio personality, friend, Kendall Hubbard (a professional reader) reads Thomas Moore's foreword to my book. Then, I had a good friend and excellent musician from New York, Steven Roues, create musical interludes using a variety of instruments, which will go between the chapters. With the accent of Rilke's native tongue, I had a young German friend, Bernd Label read the Rilke poem that I have at the end of my book and I had Marilyn Strong, my wife, read the chapter titles. So I think the audio book should be more interesting than just a monotonous talking head. The Inspired Heart audio book is scheduled for release sometime in early June 2009. Among other things, I have done over 60 media interviews and have several currently in the works, including the possibility of a feature Link TV interview.

Since I don't sell art, I have not accepted gallery representation. I have nothing against selling art — I simply haven't felt called to do so yet. Perhaps I will some day. I have an enormous body of art in my possession at this point. I occasionally show the film and/or my art in museums and galleries willing to show and not sell. It has been the true art-lovers who have shown my art, not the merchants. My work is experienced more extensively by groups and individuals who come to my studio, through film presentations and lectures I give internationally and through a variety of media venues.

Q: Your new book, The Inspired Heart: An Artist's Journey of Transformation, is simply amazing. What led you to create this stunning literary self-portrait? What was your greatest challenge in bringing this inspiring and deeply personal work to the page?

A: After talking to many friends who are writers about the nightmares of writing and finding a publisher, I see what a blessing my experience around the creation of my book has been for me.

During an art show I had on Orcas Island, our friend Carol Wright took an interest in my story and work. She decided to gift me with a website. She asked many questions and asked me to write a little of my story that she would post on the new site. I decided to write about my journey in short story form rather than in a literal way. The stories I initially wrote for that early web site were the humble beginnings of my book.

Once the web site was up and running, Carol asked an associate of hers, Connie Shaw, publisher at Sentient Publications, to have a look at my art (for potential book covers) and the stories I had written. Connie apparently liked both and asked if I would be interested in writing a book. Feeling a little overwhelmed with the increasing number of people who came to my home to talk to me; people who, in one way or another found elements of healing and hope in my story and art, I began to feel a need for a vehicle larger than my one-on-one human presence to carry my story.

When Connie asked if I would be interested in writing a book, the timing seemed perfect. I immediately said yes. With the ease with which events unfolded around the creation of my book, I felt as if unseen hands were guiding the process. The stories poured out easily enough. I had always had an applicable story to offer someone experiencing difficulty and in need of a meaningful, poetic twist to the harsh reality they were experiencing. With everything falling into place I managed to complete the actual writing of the book in about four months. Photographer and friend Ed Severinghaus volunteered to take high quality pictures of my artwork for the book, and Connie did the editing personally. For the miracle of this book I humbly owe a good deal of gratitude to Carol, Connie, and to Microsoft Spell-check.

Q: What is your vision for the next phase of your career?

A: My vision as an artist has always been to touch the world in some significant way. I am at a place in my life where my art and life are emerging in the world in a way that seems to have taken on a life of its own. There are events unfolding just as they should and I wouldn't know how to better direct the process. My hope is to remain watchful and see what the next moment might bring and respond to what comes in the most direct way possible. My only desire at this phase in my life is to stay open and aware enough to allow the spirit of the time to flow freely through everything I do. If I can accomplish this, I believe all else will fall into place.

Q: Thanks for joining us today, Jerry. Before we end the interview, I have one final question. What is your message for the next generation of up-and-coming artists? Any words of advice or wisdom for our Creativity Portal readers would be most welcome.

A: It is not easy for young artists to see the potential in the world we currently inhabit. If we thought logically about the challenges we are faced with today we might all go and jump off a bridge. However, inspiration and the spirit of art are not logical, they are paradoxical and poetic by their very nature.

My message to young artists is this — Art is alive and well and always will be! The challenges of artists of any generation are basically the same. The spirit of the times flows on and is expressed through anyone open and willing to live fearlessly in the spirit of their day. Truly creative breakthroughs in art have a way of hanging our fixed and established notions of art on the peg of paradox. As the crowning jewel of any creative journey, inspiration moves in to define our individual expression — and it is here that we must let go and leave behind all that we think we know about art. At the same time, we must honor all that has come before us. Herein lies the impossible paradox for most artists!

To establish the ground of a truly inspired new expression in the world, one must fully give oneself over to a larger harmony beyond our control. It is a harmony that is self-sustaining, and holds the newly established ground we have given ourselves to, more by way of its' nature than by reference to anything known or established. Honoring the past is established and experienced more as a poetic sense of awe than by way of reason. There is a collective, living mythos that we recognize and identify as our own when a work of art, or the path of an artist has been inspired. Joseph Campbell says, "The most sublime form of artistic expression is formless and simply leaves one in a state of awe." •

Connect with Jerry Wennstrom

  • Jerry Wennstrom & Marilyn StrongFor more information on Jerry's life and art, or to read sample stories from his amazing book, please visit:
  • See Jerry's art in the 2009 film, "Mythic Journeys" by Steven and Whitney Boe. His paintings are featured in the movie trailer.

© 2009 Molly J. Anderson-Childers

Molly Anderson-Childers is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado. More »