By Adelle Brodbeck
Sincerity, enthusiasm and motivation are some of the most difficult traits to achieve. Local artist Seth A. Jones has all three, plus a book series.
Upon contacting Jones, 30, to inquire about his upcoming “Angels and Souls” exhibit at the Old 502 Winery downtown, it became quite obvious that this writer wouldn’t get away with a short preview piece. A brief email sent as a request for background was met with a 1,200-word response and an “I like telling stories” defense.
So, here is an attempt to translate that wildly creative and constructive story.
Jones grew up in the Louisville area and began creating at an early age. In elementary school, a teacher pulled his mother aside to show her the noticeable difference in talent between his drawings and those of his classmates. Since then, Jones has pursued an arts education.
From Noe Middle School to Seneca High School, Jones attributes his motivation to support from his teachers. In between his junior and senior year at Seneca, Jones attended a Rising Star summer course at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and that was where “the dream comes true.”
Jones followed that dream to SCAD in 2002 and graduated magna cum laude in three years. After being recruited to remain at the school for his lacrosse skills — a sport only introduced to Jones at the beginning of undergrad — he completed a master’s of fine arts with a focus on sequential art in two years. While continuing to balance his two conflicting talents, athleticism and artistry, Jones managed to write and publish his first children’s book.
To continue his practically endless list of accomplishments, Jones worked as a graphic design/video production/architecture teacher, began his own publishing company and web comic series, served as a coach for four separate sports teams, and played on two semi-pro lacrosse teams during his time in Vail, Colo., after graduating from SCAD. There he made his first marks in the now completed “Angels and Souls” series. Once he moved back to Louisville in 2011, Jones says the narrative behind “Angels and Souls” began to emerge.
“Religion has always been a big part of my family,” he explains. “I have always had stories of angels that danced through my head, always envisioning them as the caretakers of humans.”
Though he has been immersed in religion, with two close relatives serving as ministers and many others deeply committed to the church, Jones is not quite sure of his place in it all. He admits that much of his work is an outlet for questioning and discovery.
His pieces show that uncertainty, but also reveal a great desire for understanding. Detailed narratives supplement each piece (except for his sketchbook excerpts) in the show. Jones says these stories are just as important to his pieces as the actual paintings. Rather than deterring from personal interpretations of his work, Jones says the descriptions help viewers relate to them.
“I believe there is a power in stories whether told, read or seen,” he says. “Many of the pieces represent emotions I have had personally and ones that I think most people have.”
“Angels and Souls” will be Jones’ first exhibit in Louisville. He is adamant in his modesty and dedicates the show to his family and friends who have helped him.
“I don’t care if I don’t sell a single piece,” Jones says. “All of them are going home with my friends and family, because they’re definitely not going back with me.”
After five years of working on these pieces, Jones is more than ready to part ways.
Jones has noticed a change in Louisville and its art scene since he first left at 17, “in a very great way.” But, he also noticed a difficulty in returning to the quickly expanding art scene. Jones did not expect to ever have his own exhibit in a city that tends to favor more recognizable names for gallery installments. But with constant encouragement and phone calls from friend Hugh Hardage, he was able to set up an event with the Old 502 Winery.
“I personally love the venue,” Jones says. “Wine and art are always a great pair.”
Jones also says he is excited to partner with Old 502 to help them as a local business.
“I told them only 300 people were coming because of fire codes, but I’m expecting more than that.”
He also expects those in attendance will be more than happy to purchase some wine from the two cash bars. Jones even printed a few customized labels for bottles of Old 502’s popular Shar-Duh-Nay.
“Having a show in Louisville, where everything began and really developed me as a person and artist, is a dream come true,” Jones says. “To share it with everyone and the community is such a great feeling. My art is an extension of who I am, and to share with everyone is such joy.”
The ethereal “Angels and Souls” exhibit will unveil at 5:30 p.m. this Friday, June 19, in both the main and top floors of the Old 502 Winery at 120 S. 10th St. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs never hurt. For more information, or for links to purchase Jones’ work, visit sajonesart.com.
“Angels and Souls” will be on display for one night only, since Old 502 Winery is undergoing renovation and adding a new restaurant. The winery and home to Falls City Beer will close its doors on Sunday until early July.