Moore On Art: Jonas

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OOne imagines beauty is in art but one does not always imagine the journey for most artists. This author has enjoyed a multitude of beauty and imagery in her journey meeting and interviewing each artist as she prepares for the next chapter.

This month the journey led to a magical home/studio and artist with a history so intriguing and full of adventure that it boggles the mind and changes one’ s perception of life with astonishing momentum, and still it is ongoing.

In Kendall County, away from the hustle and bustle is a little village known as Alamo Springs. It exists as a Fredericksburg address while being situated in the northern corner of Kendall County. Residing within the small secluded village is the enchanting home/studio of Jonas Perkins. Many have heard of his extraordinary reputation as a painter, wood carver, mosaic, sculpture artist.  Jonas is known all over the world and a little bit of his art graces homes, businesses, colleges, and corporations worldwide.

Jonas’ life began over 70 years ago to parents who worked very hard to provide for their children. His mom scrubbed floors in a mental hospital and his father was a Pullman porter to give their children the best they could. Jonas was born with such artistic talent that when his mom did taught ceramics class she would hand Jonas a lump of clay and he could already at a young age turn that lump into recognizable sculptures of people and things.  Jonas and his mom knew what his future held in the world of art while the world was ready for his talent, Jonas still had some hurdles to overcome. Being African American led to challenges that some creativity would be needed and just the right people showed up in his life to help Jonas overcome some of those challenges.

Jonas’ home in Alamo Springs is an artwork of its own. It is an enchanting home built of Styrofoam and glass bottles on a steel frame. Certain times of day when the sun shines through the colorful bottles the magic seems to bring to life a world of its own…one can almost hear the giggles of the sprites, the wings of fairies and the voices of the sculptures come to life.

It was actually a wooden bust carving of a woman that earned Jonas the formal education his parents so craved for him. As a young child his parents worked and insisted that he attend private school for a more formal training to give him an edge in life. So when he graduated from high school and was searching for his next level of education it was only natural that he apply to the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago. His amazing talent showcased with his carving of the bust of the woman quickly earned him his ticket to his future. “I carved that piece out of black walnut with a screwdriver and polished it with glass.” A true example of Jonas’ talent and creativity. Jonas graduated with the knowledge and talent strong and visible. Currently, In his home studio he has created a statue of Willie Nelson. Statues of Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Frederick Douglas, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King, George Bush, Rosa Parks and a life size sculpture of John Wayne, buffalo soldiers and many many more on display in many public and private places. His bronze statues and his wood carved statues reside in such important homes as libraries, monuments, parks, colleges, and more.

Jonas has a unique and interesting sculpting design technique. He first sculpts his form out of Styrofoam. Then he bronzes over it precisely forming the features and smallest of details until he is happy with his creation. He is amazing with delicate mosaics creating a mosaic floor in his studio so intricate and beautifully stunning. His glass bottles that comprise his walls and dividers in his studio create such prism beauty one imagines the fairies and the sprites playing just out of sight. And to complete his dream home, he recycled old satellite dishes as a roof. To marvel at the artwork while in such a magical place is overwhelming and to know the artist is in person right there makes the journey through Jonas Perkins mind and life even more striking!!!

Jonas has a humble heart and soul. He has been featured in magazines, newspapers, television and on the Texas Country Reporter.  His magical mosaics precisely placed to depict faces, designs and more are such an awe inspiring medium that will simply blow your mind. His paintings capture the soul of the subject and the sculptures come alive with each stroke of his tools. Jonas uses tools not typical for his art mediums. He prefers the use of a screwdriver, kitchen knife and butter knife as his tools of trade. He finds them much more useful than the fancier more costly tools available to artists.

Jonas did not always live in Kendall County. He was born in Phoenix, Illinois where his mother encouraged him to become a leader for the people and to do something great. After his college he was headed to the Institute Allende Art Academy in Mexico when his car broke down in front of famous American Architect O’Neill Ford home who had designed the Tower of Americas and the Riverwalk. As he showed O’Neill his art and told of his plans, O’Neill told him to stay there with him as he could teach Jonas more than any school!!! O’Neill and his brother, Lynn, made it their passion to take Jonas under their wing and proceeded to mentor him until Lynn’s death.   He moved to the Kendall County area in the late 1970s still following his dream. Jonas met artist Johann Eyfells who mentored Jonas until his recent death.  Eyfells encouraged Jonas to pick and choose what art he wanted to do and to complete those projects. He encouraged Jonas to work on those pieces of art closest to his heart. Jonas is currently working on a sculpture of John Lewis which he hopes to complete soon and put on display.

Jonas told me that the covid has affected his ability to find suitable outlets to showcase his work and hopes that will change soon. He does still offer some classes or mentoring on a limited basis and invites someone interested to contact him at 830-997-2935 or jonas@jonasperkins.com or www.jonasperkins.com.

Jonas does not put a financial before his art but chooses to do his art and let the financial follow. Most of his work is commissioned and he still works on some commission work but one is lucky to have him find the time.  He is currently open to the public but one must make an appointment as he is very busy and it is worth the time to make that appointment or commission something from him. Jonas has not shown in galleries much in the last few years as he has found that the outlet is not conducive to his work. He prefers to do commission work or allow some of his personal collection to be sold. A good friend of Jonas’ Larry Miller has been Jonas’ friend and an admirer for many years. He still goes to see Jonas and was there recently to visit his old friend and work with Jonas as his media person helping him get Jonas’ statue of Ludwig von Boerne placed back in a place of prominence. Jonas would love to create a play about Ludwig that highlights the statue coming to life to narrate his own life and the history of Boerne. It is a project he hopes to complete in his lifetime.

The magic that is Jonas Perkins cannot truly be described in one article it must be experienced for yourself.  From the small African American boy with a talent the size of the world and  his mom’s instruction to be a leader to the magnificent man today who has touched so many lives…Jonas Perkins has accomplished all that and more as he is bigger than life!!