Marvin Jones

(1940 - 2005)

Archived in 2014


Jones was a professor of art at Cleveland State University from 1976 – 2004, where he taught printmaking and special topics courses. He also served as a visiting artist – in – residence, or guest lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design, Montalvo Center for the Arts, California State University, Oxbow Studio and Conference Center, Millay Colony for the Arts, University of Dallas, and other institutions in the United States and abroad.

His work has appeared in over five hundred group exhibitions throughout the world, including many major biennales such as; both the 3rd and 9th International British Print Biennales, the Yugoslavian 13th International Biennale of Graphic Arts, The 8th Biennale of Graphic Design in Czechoslovakia, and The International Drawing Exhibition of the Joan Miro Foundation. His work has been exhibited as part of group shows in many museums including; The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Minnesota Museum of art, The Seattle Museum of Art, The Portland Museum of Art, The Montreal Museum of Fine arts and The Cleveland Museum of Art. He has had over 75 solo exhibitions of his paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture and his work is included in over forty public collections.

Jones was himself a great collector of the works of many cultures and held a very large collection of Outsider, Inuit, Aboriginal, African and Mexican Folk Art. He used these objects widely for inspiration within his own work, particularly in his later years. His earlier work was heavily influenced by the other California artists who taught at his alma mater, the University of California at Davis in the 1960’s. Teachers like Roy De Forest, Robert Arneson, Wayne Thiebaud, William Wiley and students like David Gilhooly, who were the founders of the California Funk movement. The movement was characterized by outrageous wit which fused counter – culture thinking with a devil may care attitude. Marvin’s early work clearly shows the “funk” influence in his choice of subject matter, and cartoon style. His later works, while changing in focus and process, still relate back to those former teachers and fellow artists from Davis. The eyes that Marvin often painted by hand on his prints in later years, look very much like the eyes Roy De Forest painted on his dogs in the 1970’s, and works like Squirrel Descending a Staircase and Aunt Bea Catches a Squirrel are printed in a style that shows Deforests influence. In general Jones took a very crafted, deliberate, approach to the numerous drawings, prints and ceramics that he produced prolifically during his lifetime. He was beloved teacher whose sense of humor was never very far from either his personal art or his teaching style.

…”Both Western and non-Western art, except at the most trivial level, is about the experience of being human and is an attempt to control and understand the environment in which we live….The Ocumicho figures are usually seen as humorous. It is always good to remind ourselves that the basis for comedy is tragedy and that the thing that is most unhappy is often the best occasion for a smile. “*

*quote from Marvin Jones & Ocumicho, a show at the Folk Arte Gallery, 2026 Murray Hill Rd, Cleveland Ohio, Feb 19 – March 20, 1993