Jenny Guo 郭晶霞: The Creativity of Art That Makes Dreams Come True
*Click for a version in Mandarin
A gifted artist with a deep imagination and keen eye for innovation paves a determined path with great luck forged by an even greater vision.
“Everyone says she creates miracles” Linda S. Mensch, Attorney at Law, Bryan Cave LLP
“大家都说她创造了奇迹。” ——琳达 · S · 门斯，布莱恩 · 凯夫律师事务所的律师
Question: What was your experience when you first came to the United States?
Jenny Guo: Like all young people, I said goodbye to my family and home, and came to the U.S. alone full of expectations and dreams. At that time, I encountered many hurdles, such as the language barrier and the problem of immigration status without a green card. Fortunately, art was always faithfully with me. I worked hard to learn English and painted tirelessly, and finally, God rewarded me. A gallery that was willing to hold a solo exhibition for me. At the reception party of my solo show, I met a lawyer who said he liked my portrait so much that he was willing to help me apply for a green card for “Alien of Extraordinary Ability” without charge if I could paint his portrait. I accepted the opportunity with confidence. A month later, I gave him the portrait and he was so excited that he invited me to lunch. He was also very trustworthy and quickly helped me apply for my green card. He is the most important person in my life. Another time, I had a very bad cold and the medical bills were so expensive that I had no other choice but to sell a family heirloom ring to pay for the medical bills. I met a collector who, after seeing my ring, not only did not offer a low price for it but suggested that I should keep this very precious ring. When he found out that I was a painter and was forced to sell the ring by necessity, he immediately paid me a nice deposit and commissioned me to paint a full-body portrait of a tennis star. When I finished the task, I handed the painting to him. He was not only very satisfied but also introduced me to his family and friends. Later, my lawyer friend recommended I paint portraits of Hillary Clinton, President Menem of Argentina, and the President of Mexico. Because of these distinguished people, many entrepreneurs and business people have asked me for custom portraits. I am fortunate to have changed the course of my life with my art and brush. The charm and bond of art have allowed me to meet many American friends with whom I have developed deep friendships in the years to come.
Question: In what ways has your life changed?
JG: Driven by the power of art, I have strong self-confidence. I was constantly learning new things to improve my skills in various fields and challenging my potential. 1994 was a period of frequent trade and commerce between the U.S. and China, and during that once-in-a-lifetime historical period, I met another inflection point in my life. By coincidence, I accompanied a friend to a job interview and the interviewer asked me to try it out as well. She asked me, “If you were to be in charge of affairs with China, what qualifications would you have? Would you be willing? I said, “Of course I am willing, please give me a blank sheet of paper. When I got the blank sheet of paper, I quickly drew her portrait. She highly praised the portrait I drew. I said I had three special advantages: One, creativity. I can create life on a blank piece of paper. Second, organizational leadership. I can play the piano with ten fingers, mix colors with twelve colors, and combine dots, lines, and surfaces to create a balanced and harmonious picture. Third, I have perseverance and loyalty, my achievements come from hard work. I make progress in the face of difficulties. I am loyal to my promises and never give up until I achieve victory. After listening to my words, she followed up by asking how to make a difference in the economic and trade cooperation between China and the United States. I said that we must have a sense of responsibility and mission, and promote mutual understanding, respect, and seek common ground between the people of the two countries. When we all run together in unison toward our goals, we will achieve success and win-win.
During this interview, I was selected among a dozen outstanding candidates. I immediately became the leader of a multi-million dollar U.S.-China partnership. I threw myself into this job with enthusiasm, fearlessness, and courage. My artistic talent and passion, my organizational skills, and my connections were the perfect combination. In the end, we achieved complete success.
Question: Was there a specific event that triggered the subtle combination of your artistic talent and organizational skills?
JG: Life is sometimes dramatic, and destiny takes a course that is unpredictable throughout one’s life. My connection to the VISTA skyscraper in Chicago (now known as St. Regis Chicago) began with a luncheon at a sailing club. Two of my friends were talking about an empty lot on the lake and they had a lot of ideas that affected me and inspired my art. Yes, how amazing it would be to create a new world from nothing on a vacant lot with ingenuity and wisdom. I imagined the spectacular sight of the skyscrapers rising from the ground. This time my inspiration was not on canvas, but in reality. How inspiring it would be if one day I could be part of this great project myself! I often stroll along the shores of Lake Michigan, enjoying the sunrise and sunset, the tranquil lake, the greenery, and the white sails. With the spring breeze on my face, I enjoy wandering through the city’s architectural complexes and marveling at the ingenuity and wisdom of mankind. I never imagined that a skyscraper would affect my destiny, but in 2014, I was given the opportunity to work on the VISTA Tower, a project that required me to invest hundreds of millions of dollars. I faced the challenge with completion of the project. Today, my heart is filled with pride when I see the VISTA Tower, the third tallest of Chicago’s landmarks, a beautiful sight that will forever remain in history.
Question: How would you describe yourself?
JG: I love my ethereal mind, I dare to pursue impossible dreams and love the enthusiasm they bring to me. I love the colorfulness on canvas, and I also love to absorb diverse new knowledge and skills like a sponge. I use art as a bridge and a bond to create wonders in my career, constantly striving to explore the future. I am grateful for the people and events that have inspired me and accompanied me over the years. They are the courage and strength that illuminate my journey forward. Everyone’s spiritual world is unknown, and I hope that I will contribute to a more meaningful world with the wisdom, talent, courage, and perseverance I have in this life.
Question: How do you realize your dreams?
JG: I created an oil painting on a blank canvas called “VISTA’s Sky.” I wanted this oil painting to be like this skyscraper, to create an everlasting memory. In real life, I chose to make this special art, not with a brush, but with actions needed to make dreams come true. Any success requires a process. And I have gone through a lot of hardships on the way for my dream to come true. In the hustle and bustle of the vanity fair, starting with nothing, I kept overcoming difficulties. The drive of art comes to life and endless power. The 1,200-foot skyscraper miraculously rises from the ground, we create miracles and benefit people. The flower of our dreams blossoms with a luster that never dies.
Jenny Guo 郭晶霞
Jenny Guo is recognized as an expert in facilitating business and government relations between China and the United States. She began her career in 1994 and has over 25 years of experience. During her distinguished career, she has served as Vice Chair of Asian Affairs for the Mid-America Committee, Vice Chair of the China Committee for the World Trade Center Chicago, and Vice Chair of the Midwest International Exchange Council. In the process of promoting business cooperation between China and the U.S., Ms. Guo’s unique ability to grasp the timing, her distinctive networking skills, and her outstanding coordination and organization skills have helped U.S. companies to quickly open up investment cooperation with Chinese companies.
In response to the needs of Fortune 500 companies, Ms. Guo has helped facilitate the transition from general dealings with the Chinese government and companies to close, ongoing, and substantive relationships. They have established friendly relations with more than 20 cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Shenyang, Dalian, and Xi’an, as well as the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade, and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and have jointly promoted the landing of more than 20 projects with a total investment of billions of dollars. Ms. Guo’s tenure with the Mid-America Council has made her a highly influential expert in the Midwest region. The Council has been in existence for over 50 years. They focus on business-government partnerships and their membership includes 150 major multinational companies such as Motorola, McDonald’s, Monsanto, United Airlines, Amoco Oil, First Chicago Bank, Chicago Board of Trade, JP Morgan, Abbott Laboratories, Caterpillar, and many others. She has led many Fortune 500 companies to visit and invest in China and has been honored to be received by Chinese leaders at the Great Hall of the People on several occasions.
In April 1999, Ms. Guo hosted Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji in Chicago as one of the organizers. In 1997, Ms. Guo attended a reception hosted by President Clinton for Chinese President Jiang Zemin at the White House, and in 2006, she was again invited by the White House to attend a luncheon hosted by President Bush for Chinese President Hu Jintao. She was also honored to attend a dinner in Chicago hosted by Mayor Daley for Chinese President Jiang Zemin and President Hu Jintao, and in 1999, Ms. Guo was invited to attend the 50th anniversary of the National Day celebration at Tiananmen Square and also attended the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She has also had the honor of meeting the Presidents of Argentina and Mexico on several occasions. Ms. Guo’s achievements, abilities, and personality have earned her a high reputation as an “Ambassador of Friendship” and a “Trustworthy Bridge”.
Ms. Guo has actively and enthusiastically hosted many outstanding entrepreneurs as Chinese companies move beyond their borders in the direction of internationalization. In particular, in 1995, she facilitated a partnership between the then Chairman of Wanxiang Group and American companies. Today, Wanxiang Group has become a $10 billion listed company and has provided thousands of jobs for the local government and people in the U.S. In 2014, she actively promoted China’s Wanda Group to enter the U.S., resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate investments. Wanda Vista Tower has also become one of Chicago’s iconic buildings. Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave high praise to Ms. Guo for her outstanding contributions to the city of Chicago.
In a career spanning more than 25 years, Ms. Guo has held many community positions. She was hired by the Mayor of Chicago as the Vice Chair of the Chicago Sister Cities China Committee, appointed by the Mayor of St. Louis as an advisor to the World Affairs Council, honored as an honorary citizen by the Mayor of New York City, and was hired by the Mayor of Gary, Indiana as a China economic advisor and presented with the city’s Golden Key as an honor. She has also been hired by President Donald of Monsanto as a China program advisor, appointed by Roosevelt University and Illinois Institute of Technology as an advisor to their MBA programs, and by DePauw University’s Presidential Scholarship as a special advisor. She has recommended over 1000 MBA students to these universities on a pro bono basis. Ms. Guo graduated from the prestigious Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in China and later studied economic management at Illinois State University. She is a frequent guest speaker at conferences for U.S.-China economic exchange seminars and is often invited to speak at universities for college students. She has created one miracle after another in promoting economic, cultural, and business cooperation between China and the United States, and has accomplished fruitful results in promoting business cooperation between China and the United States.
“大家都说她创造了奇迹。” ——琳达 · S · 门斯，布莱恩 · 凯夫律师事务所的律师
答：我和当时很多中国的年轻人一样，满怀期待和梦想地告别了亲人和家乡，只身一人来到美国。当时我遇到的最大的困难是语言沟通的障碍和没有绿卡的身份问题。幸运的是，艺术一直忠实地陪伴我。我拼命努力的学英语，不知疲倦的画画。终于天道酬勤，有画廊愿意为我举办个人画展。 在我个人画展的酒会上，我遇到一位律师，他说他非常喜欢我画的肖像，如果我能给他画肖像，他愿意无偿帮助我申请特殊人才的绿卡。我自信满满的接受了这个机会。一个月后，我将画好的肖像送给了他，他非常兴奋，还请我共进午餐。他也很讲诚信，很快就帮助我申请到了绿卡。他是我生命中重要的贵人。还有一次，我得了很重的感冒，医药费很贵，我别无他法，只能变卖一枚传家宝的戒指来支付医疗费。这次我遇到了一位收藏家。他看到我的戒指后，不但没有出低价收购，而是建议我应该好好保留这枚非常珍贵的戒指。当他知道我是一个画家，是被生活所迫而不得不变卖戒指时，他立刻支付了我一个不错的押金，委托我画一幅网球明星的全身画像。当我完成任务之后将画交给他，他不仅非常满意，还将我介绍给他的家人和朋友。后来我的律师朋友还推荐我给希拉里克林顿， 阿根廷总统梅内姆和墨西哥总统等绘画肖像。因为有这些贵人的推荐，许多企业家和商业人士也向我订制肖像。我很幸运，用我的艺术和画笔，改变了人生轨迹。艺术的魅力和纽带让我认识了很多美国朋友，在长长的岁月中，与他们建立了深厚的友谊 。
答：在艺术力量的驱动下，我拥有一个强大的自信心。 我不断在各个领域学习新知识，不断的挑战自己的潜力。1994年，正值中美关系商贸往来的热恋期。那是一个千载难逢的历史时期，我遇到了人生的另一次拐点。由于一次巧合，我陪朋友去面试，面试人员让我也试试。她问我，如果让你来负责中国事务，你愿意吗？你具备什么条件？ 我说，我当然愿意，请给我一张白纸。当我拿到白纸后，我很快将对方画了下来。对方对我画的肖像称赞不已。我说我有三个特殊优势，一、创造力。我能在一张空白的纸上创造生命。二、组织领导力，我会用十二种颜色调色，会用点，线，面组合平衡和谐的图画。三、我有毅力和忠诚，我的成绩来自埋头苦干。遇到困难，我知难而进。我忠于自己的诺言，永不放弃，直到取得胜利。 她听了我的话后，又追问道，在中美的经贸合作中，怎样才能有所作为？ 我说，我们必须要有责任感和使命感，要推动两国人民间的相互了解、相互尊重和求同存异。当大家齐心合力奔向目标，就会取得成功和双赢。
答：人生有时是充满戏剧性的，命运的走向在人的一生中都是可遇不可求的。我和芝加哥的VISTA摩天大楼（现已更名为St. Regis Chicago）的缘分，源自一次在帆船俱乐部的午餐会。 当时我的两个朋友在畅谈湖边的一块空地，他们的很多的设想感染了我，也激发了我的艺术灵感。是呀，在一片空地上，用聪明、智慧开拓出一个从无到有的新天地，该是多么神奇和伟大。我幻想着那摩天大楼平地而起的壮观景象。这次我的灵感不是在画布上，而是在现实中。要是有一天，我能亲自参与这个伟大的计划，该是多么地鼓舞人心。我经常漫步在密西根湖畔，欣赏着那里的日出日落，还有宁静的湖水，绿地和白帆。 我喜欢在城市的建筑群里畅游 ，对人类的聪明与智慧赞叹不已。2014 年的一个契机，VISTA大厦的招商引资工作需要我去完成，我的任务是完成数亿美元的融资。 面对着这个挑战，我不负众望，完成了任务。如今，每当看到VISTA大厦那英姿飒爽，傲立群雄的风采，我的心里就充满了自豪。VISTA成为了芝加哥地标建筑的第三高楼，它是芝加哥漂亮的一道风景线，并将永远地载入史册。
Jenny Guo 郭晶霞
郭晶霞（Jenny Guo) 被公认为是促进中国和美国商业与政府关系合作的专家。她于1994年开始工作，拥有25余年的工作经验。在她卓越的职业生涯中，曾担任过美国中部委员会（The Mid-America Committee）的亚洲事务副主席，芝加哥世界贸易中心的中国委员会副主席，美国中西部国际交流委员会的副主席等。在促进中美商务合作的过程中，郭女士以她独到的把握时机的能力，特有的人脉关系，突出的协调和组织活动能力，帮助美国企业与中国企业的投资合作迅速打开局面。
1999年4月，郭女士在芝加哥作为主办单位负责人之一接待了中国总理朱镕基。她在北京、芝加哥和华盛顿之间奔波，协调各方人员，为千人午餐大会的成功举办立下汗马功劳。1997年，郭女士参加了克林顿总统在白宫为中国国家主席江泽民举办的招待会。2006年她再次受白宫邀请，参加了布什总统为中国国家主席胡锦涛举办的午宴。她还在芝加哥荣幸地参加了戴利市长为中国国家主席江泽民和胡锦涛主席举办的晚宴。1999年，郭女士受邀参加了国庆50周年天安门庆典，也出席了2008年北京奥运会开幕式。她还曾多次荣幸见到阿根廷总统和墨西哥总统。郭女士的业绩、能力和人格魅力使她赢得了很高的声誉，被称为 “友好大使” 和 “值得信赖的桥梁”。
在中国企业走出国门, 朝着国际化方向发展中，郭女士积极热情的接待了大批优秀企业家。尤其是1995年，她促成当时的万向集团董事长与美国公司的合作。如今，万向集团已经成为百亿美元的上市公司，为美国当地政府和人民解决了数千人的就业。2014年，她积极推动中国的万达集团进入美国，促成数亿美元的房地产项目的投资。万达Vista大厦也成为了芝加哥的标志性建筑之一。前芝加哥市长Rahm Emanuel对郭女士给予高度赞誉，感谢她为芝加哥城市建设做出的突出贡献。
在25余年的职业生涯中，郭女士担任过许多社会职务。她被芝加哥市长聘用为芝加哥姐妹友好城市中国委员会副主席，被圣路易斯市市长任命为世界事务委员会顾问，被纽约市市长授予荣誉市民称号，还曾被印第安纳州盖瑞市市长聘请为中国经济顾问，并被赠予城市的金钥匙作为荣誉。她还被孟山都公司的唐纳德总裁聘为中国项目顾问，被罗斯福大学和伊利诺伊州理工大学任命为 MBA 项目顾问，以及被德堡大学校长奖学金授予特别顾问资格。她无偿地为这些大学推荐了1000多名 MBA 学员。郭女士毕业于中国著名的鲁迅美术学院，后在伊州州立大学进修经济管理。她经常被聘为中美经济交流研讨活动的嘉宾在大会演讲，也常受邀在高校为大学生提供讲演。她在推动中美之间的经济、文化和商务合作方面创造了一个又一个奇迹，为促进中美商贸合作取得了丰硕成果。