An Interview with visual artist & curator, Aida Jones
I love prints, and I love colors. And because of my limited painting ability, most of my work looks abstract. When I learned of the upcoming ValleyArts exhibit, Color of Energy/Energy of Color exhibit, I was intrigued. I was not able to attend the opening at Firehouse Gallery here in New Jersey’s Valley Arts District, but caught up with one of the curators and exhibiting artists, Aida Jones.
Patricia Rogers: First Aida, how was the Color of Energy/Energy of Color opening?
Fantastic – we had an excellent turnout, over 155 people in attendance. People had a chance to chat with artists individually about their work and process. We are so pleased and want to thank everyone who came out to the opening! And if you missed it you can book a private viewing.
Tell me about the Color of Energy/Energy of Color Exhibition.
Aida Jones: An exhibition at the ValleyArt Firehouse Gallery featuring over 60 works by 24 artists. Co-curated by Aida Jones and Mikel Frank The Color of Energy; Energy of Color, an exhibition of expressive abstraction focuses on highly expressive paintings that represent energy and vitality through a variety of artistic techniques.
How did you this colorful exhibition come to life?
I met Mikel Frank when we both sat on the board of directors of 1978 Art Center in Maplewood. While on the board, my husband [musician Steve Jones] and I produced a monthly event at 1978 called The Arts Café. There was poetry readings, art on the walls, original musical performances and performance art. Mikel came to almost every event we held and he and I became fast friends. We co-curated a group show of Hoboken artists at 1978. After that success, we decided to work together on an art exhibition that focused on elements we were most passionate about abstract expression and energy.
The team at ValleyArts are the terrific group of people. Candace Lee, Julie Martini, and Jeremy Moss have been great supporters of this exhibit. I really appreciate ValleyArts and Jeremy Moss especially for accepting the Color of Energy proposal and allowing Mikel and I to curate this wonderful exhibit in the firehouse gallery space
Who is Mikel Frank?
Mikel is a wonderful abstract artist who has exhibited throughout the country. As I mentioned earlier, he served on the executive board of 1978 Maplewood Arts Center for 13 years and in 2015 had a brief stint as co-chair of the Maplewood Arts Council. In 2015, Mikel retired from The Metropolitan Museum of Art where he worked a Stage Manager since 1985. He now lives in Charlotte, NC.
What inspired the theme of color?
We wanted to hold an exhibit of energetic works that would give the viewer the freedom to explore the artist’s reality and imagination. Abstraction expressionism does just that.
When a painter puts color and marks on the canvas they are transferring their energy and emotion to us. As viewers, we connect to the energy, thought, and emotion that the painter spills out and gives to us. The idea of expression, or storytelling, is fascinating when we look at abstraction because it’s not always easy to know what the story is about. So, abstract art can pose a challenge to the beholder. It asks us to look at the world — in a new way.
Exhibition artists include: Gerard Amsellem, Mark Basco, Kathy Cantwell, RMCimini, Cat Delett, Dawn DiCicco, John Craig, Thomas Farawell, Katie Fogg, Mikel Frank, Aida Jones, Frantz Lexy, Lara Liquori, Susan Marx, Abigail Morris, Jeremy Moss,Tara O’Leary, Sidhartha Pani, Diana Rivera, Raymond Skibinski, Karen Starrett, Onnie Strother, Guen Sublette and The Visual Passion Duo.
How did you come across N.J.’s Valley Arts District?
I moved from Hoboken to Maplewood over 10 years ago. When I arrived, I sought out the art scene. Connecting with artists in the area leads you to the ValleyArts district and the team there continues to do some amazing art events.
Talk about your journey as an artist
My mother is an artist and my father a fine art photographer. I have painted and drawn since I was a child. Art has always been part of my life.
Where are you from? Tell me a little about yourself,
I was born in the Bronx, and have lived in the NY Metro area my whole life. I studied at the Art Students League in NYC and the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. I have worked as a teacher of adult painting and as Marketing and Artistic Director for the Monroe Center for the Arts, in Hoboken, NJ for 8 years. I’ve acted as curator, board member, art director and consultant on many arts programs in the state of NJ. My work has been on exhibit in a variety of NY and NJ galleries, art shows and events.
Very cool, I am also from the Bronx. What can we expect from Aida Jones the artist in the future?
I am starting a new series and will be exhibiting throughout the year.
How do you describe your work?
My work is abstraction. Rather than presenting a factual reality, I use color, form, and texture to create a sense of place or an image that allows the viewer to make their own personal associations. I enjoy gilding the work in copper and gold leaf to add a reflective quality and adding multiple layers of paint, plaster and paste to give the piece depth and dimension.
What do you want people to get from your pieces?
I want people to look at the piece and feel something. Maybe it’s curiosity; the feeling of wanting to look at it and see or know more. Or a sense of calm that says – this art makes me feel at home or reminds of something familiar. I get intrigued when someone says, “I love this piece – I just want to keep looking at it to figure it out.” I want people to feel energy, connection, and joy from my art.
Anything else you’d like to add to this colorful interview?
On Sunday, February 26 celebrate the closing of this abstract exhibit co-curated by Aida Jones and Mikel Frank – and the last ValleyArts show in the Firehouse Gallery – with music, wine, and friends. Some art will be offered at a discount during this event.
View Work Aida Jones work here: http://www.aidajones.com
Folks can call: 862-252-7035 to schedule a time to see the exhibition or to purchase a piece from the Color of Energy/Energy of Color.
Go here to view work: