Where others may have seen a shed’s metal roof falling apart, Rob Jones saw an accordion.
“The thing about painting on a found object is you don’t have to stretch it. You don’t have to build a frame for it. You don’t have to prime it. You don’t have to stain it,” Jones said. “You just have to find it.”
Jones is a painter whose gritty portraits and paintings on found items are beloved by in-the-know indie art buyers and restaurants (his work has been all over Chile Verde and Old Mohawk, for instance); however, his upcoming exhibit at Ray’s Living Room, called “Tackle Box Fulla’ Blues,” is his first solo show in a Columbus gallery.
“It’s pretty awesome. I’m trying to crank out my best work ever. In my opinion it’s the best stuff I’ve ever done,” Jones said of the new work that will be on view. “It’s taken me a while to get to the point where the painting doesn’t necessarily overtake the object and the object doesn’t necessarily overtake the painting.”
The 30 paintings in “Tackle Box Fulla’ Blues” reference fishing and historically obscure blues, zydeco and jazz musicians. Wooden slats, fishing line, beer bottle caps and sawdust-enriched paint act as Jones’ blue-collar canvas.
The point of the work lies somewhere at a storm-lit backwater crossroads where storytelling, memory and myth merge. (It was THIS big!) The icon-esque styling of these lost men of music and the passionate blue hues of which they are made allude to the artist’s devotion to carrying on their songs.
“The main reason I pick the artists I do is because I don’t want them to be totally forgotten,” Jones said.
The lessons the stories hold are as powerful as the beat-but-not-broken-eyes Jones gives the men. For example, the painting with the shed-roof accordion is of early-20th-century Creole musician Amede Ardoin. The story of Ardoin’s mysterious death says that he was severely beaten by people who were angry that he used a white woman’s handkerchief to wipe sweat off his face as he played music at a party. Mental anguish from the injuries eventually led to his death.
Beneath the layers of storytelling in the paintings is a celebration of the music and passion for art that is innate in Jones’ beloved musicians — and in Jones himself.
“What attracts me to this music? I think it’s the passion,” Jones said. “A lot of the music I like is raw. It’s got a guitar, a harmonica and a bottle of whiskey. They go in, record a couple songs and come on out. There’s no polish on top.”