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A Grande Finale : Exhibition of Jim Jones’ final works & new art museum announced at Southern Utah University

by Corey Strange

Somewhere between Maynard Dixon and the contemporary artists who paint Utah’s landscapes is Jim Jones. Bridging the past with the present, Jones has been a staple of the southwest landscape movement for many decades. On exhibit now at Southern Utah University’s Braithwaite Gallery is what has turned out to be his final body of works.

Jim Jones is a master of generalization. His painterly compositions and technique are reminiscent of Georgia O’Keefe’s bold and simplified style. His colors are usually blended to create the fugitive tones indicative of Southwest sand. Sagebrush is mottled between pale green-grays and picks up the dusty reflection of the desert beneath it. Every line and form is packed with information.

Sometime around the first of November, Jones cleaned his brushes for the last time. Old age and a long battle with illness have finally coerced him into setting aside his love. In the December of his life, SUU has honored this mentor of regional painting twice.

As Jones was thinking about his legacy, he spoke with Eric Brown, Chairman of the Art & Design Department at SUU and mentioned his dream of having his works stay in Cedar City, where he was born and raised. “When I was little, my dad took me to the Springville Museum of Art,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune. “I was enchanted by this big building in this little town, filled with art. I would like to see that for Cedar City.”

SUU President Michael Benson recently revealed the plans for SUMA (Southern Utah Museum of Art), promising to raise the entire $10 million cost from philanthropic and other non-state sources. “We want to do this without state money to show we are serious,” Benson said.

The 28,000-square-foot museum is planned for the corner of 300 West and University in downtown Cedar City, across the street from the Utah Shakespearean Festival office.

SUMA will have a gallery space committed to showing the school’s permanent collection of Jones’ work, exhibition spaces with rotating shows and provide an expanded home for the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, currently in a two-room basement suite in SUU’s Braithwaite building.

Jim Jones: Recent Paintings will be up until December 12, 2009 at the Braithwaite Fine Art Gallery located on the SUU campus. The gallery is open 12-7pm, Tuesday through Saturday.



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