The wild side of Johnpaul Jones: Noted architect showcases personal work at BAC

'Heron' (2013), by Johnpaul Jones. Mixed media on paper.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Bainbridge Arts & Crafts

Even a solo gallery exhibition is a relatively small-scale project for Johnpaul Jones.

The noted island architect and designer, founding partner of Jones & Jones architectural firm, has received numerous accolades for his firm’s work on massive environmentally-minded projects inspired by nature and culture. The great works include the Balboa Park Land Use, Circulation and Parking Study in San Diego, the Great Spokane River Gorge Strategic Master Plan, the Vancouver Land Bridge and the Mount Baker Ridge Viewpoint.

Respect for all cultures and a reverence for nature are themes that run through both Jones’ commercial and personal work, and while the pieces on display as part of his current solo show at Bainbridge Arts & Crafts in downtown Winslow may not be as grand in size, they have taken a lifetime to fully realize.

“Over the years, nonprofit organizations have asked for financial donations,” Jones explained. “I don’t really have a lot of money, so what I offer up is one or two of my bird drawings, that [they] can use to auction off. That’s how I’ve been getting them out there and they’ve sold and made pretty good money for those organizations.”

For Jones, his love of art began at a young age and was first explored through drawing.

Recognizing his talent, his teachers encouraged his pursuit of art throughout school.

“They put me in all the art classes and that wasn’t enough,” Jones remembered. “So they stuck me in an architectural drawing class.”

It was there that Jones found a new medium for his talent, and the profession that would become his career, but he always did his own work on the side.

“When I was a student at the University of Oregon, the art school and architecture school were together in one facility and shared several teachers,” Jones said. “That was a perfect place for me to be. I put myself through part of school selling drawings at a local market.”

Based on the popularity of his works at auctions, it wasn’t long before Jones became known in art circles for his paintings, but despite several offers from Seattle-based galleries to exhibit his work, Jones eventually chose to hold the first gallery show of his personal works a little closer to home.

“BAC is the one I chose to do first because I’ve lived on the island since 1967 and I’ve watched them be very helpful to artists,” Jones explained. “And they’re nonprofit.”

The architect and designer’s personal art brings the viewer’s attention back to the main theme of his work: the natural world. His depictions of regional birds and colorful frogs are placed center stage and surrounded by the plain backdrop of brown paper.

The work is reminiscent of the pioneering artistic efforts of John James Audobon and the early works of another artist, who Jones cites as a primary source of inspiration, Morris Graves.

“I’ve always been impressed by his work,” Jones said of the famed Northwest painter and co-founder of the Northwest School art movement. “They were drawing on paper bags and on cardboard, it was simple.”

The exhibition, “The Nature of Johnpaul Jones,” will be on display at BAC through Monday, April 28.

BAC is located at 151 Winslow Way E

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