Local painter Dan Jones has put a lot of work into his various exhibitions over the years, but his latest exhibition, at Ecce Art Gallery through Sept. 7, is motivated by something new.
Born and raised in Fargo, Jones has been a part of the art community in the area for over 20 years. He grew up working at his father’s construction company and planned on going to school for architecture. It wasn’t until he saw the paintings of Picasso and Rembrandt in the 1980s that he considered to try painting for himself.
“I like a lot of the Old Masters’ stuff,” Jones says. “I spend more time looking at art than putting brush to canvas, but that’s what excited me about it, to see how other people do it and used to do it.”
Jones started learning how to paint as he studied studio art at the University of Minnesota and art history from the North Dakota State University. He is now known for his charcoal landscapes and panoramic oil paintings.
Though Jones has kept quite busy with his artistic career, the past year has been a quiet one. With battles with his own health and the health of family members, his attention has been elsewhere, with little motivation to paint or draw.
It wasn’t until he stumbled upon the work of a Philadelphia artist online that his muse sparked once again.
“His work was nothing like mine, but it excited me and got me off of the couch and into the studio,” Jones says. “I started working and things started to happen.”
Jones’ exhibition “Summer Affair: Recent Drawings and Paintings” opened Aug. 11 to a welcoming crowd. Many in the community gathered, and family traveled from near and far, including his 10-month-old niece.
“She was the highlight of the night, as far as I was concerned,” Jones says. “It was the best opening ever.”
This is the fifth Jones exhibition that Mark Weiler, owner of Ecce Art Gallery, has hosted. He’s also featured Jones in collaborative shows.
“He is willing to take risks, and to be young again,” Weiler says. “This unabashed approach, combined with his technical mastery and understanding, has, in my mind, brought out his finest work to date.”
Jones’ pieces harken back to work he was doing 25 years ago, inspired by his favorite abstract painters like Milton Avery. He also seeks inspiration from the local landscape, highlighting the Red River and the Plains.
“Dan is continually evolving and experimenting with his technique and overall approach,” Weiler says. “His current exhibit is largely informed by the Red River Valley and its subtle, but striking everydayness.”
Along with his charcoal drawings and oil paintings, Jones’ small ink drawings will also be a part of this exhibition. Jones developed these drawings while participating in an art CSA for The Arts Partnership. He had so much fun making these 5-by-7 ink wash drawings that he has included a few for the gallery. Some have already sold.
“I was in a really good space when I created these pieces,” Jones says. “So there was joy involved there, and I think it shows through in my work.”
If you go
What: “Summer Affair: Recent Drawings and Paintings” by Dan Jones
When: On display through Sept. 7
Where: Ecce Art Gallery, 216 Broadway, Fargo
This article is part of a content partnership with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and originally appeared in the Monday, August 22, 2016, issue of the paper.