A Rose For Jonathan

In the 1977-78 timeframe, Jonathan and I were among the very few straight males associated with a prominent mostly-lesbian nonprofit public art collective in Venice, California.  Jonathan was a talented painter and I was manning my camera between stints of grant writing and serving as tactical second-in-command to the organization’s uber-feminist CEO/art director.  One day Jonathan and I were relaxing in his on-premises studio when Joe, another muralist/painter (see him here) passed by with fresh stash for us to try.  Relaxing with one of Joe’s doobies, we dove into a theme Jonathan was trying to portray in his work, the relationship of beauty and violence.

At one point, we decided that a flower, perhaps a rose, was the classical metaphor/cliche for beauty and that violence might be represented by broken glass.  As Jonathan busied himself with sketches and brushstrokes, I started drafting a poem based on those themes, noting in my journal some of our remarks, including his idea that he wanted to show how he would “throw a rose  through a plate glass window and shatter it” .   In the meantime, I fired off a few frames of Jonathan himself.  

Later on, I brought together a portrait of Jonathan from that session, annotated to reflect his concept and my notes of poetry (as also shown here).

I don’t know whether Jonathan ever actually completed his beauty/violence piece, but the idea stayed in my mind over the years. Then, yesterday – when I stayed at home and did not travel to my studio, reminiscent of the Covid lockdown, because the temperatures were reaching 104 degrees – I came upon some old images of Jonathan.

This time I decided to run a bit of an experiment with artificial intelligence. So I tracked down several AI image generators and prompted them with language similar to the words Jonathan and I had used so many years ago. Four AI generators and 61 generated images later, plus my own editing and conversion of the results, some semblance of Jonathan’s concept started to emerge. Here is one example:

My rework of image originally prompted from Microsoft Designer AI

I haven’t seen or communicated with Jonathan for nearly fifty years, and have no idea of what may have become of him (or his work). What follows are some images to introduce you to my talented friend.

Jonathan is interviewed by Los Angeles 24 Hour News Radio (1978)

This entry was posted in experimental, my stuff, people/portraits. Bookmark the permalink.