In honor of Black History Month, Pathways will exhibit the work of two African American artists at the Chilmark Tavern during the month of February. Local painter Harry Seymour and Boston-area artist Nygel Jones will be the featured artists.
Jones’ work is unique for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious thing that sets his work apart from the mainstream is the way that he displays his paintings. He builds his own frames, which are very often constructed in unique shapes and/or designed to fit together with each other. Not one to limit himself to right angles, Jones’ frames are sculptural works in their own right. Having grown up with a carpenter father, the artist, a skilled woodworker himself, is as interested in creating visually arresting ways to display his work as he is in painting the pictures enclosed by his unusual frames.
“The first job I had was for a custom signmaking business,” says Jones. “We did a couple of projects making these crazy unusual shapes. Now I can break beyond the traditional square or rectangle. I just started making my picture frames unorthodox. It’s more of an exercise for myself.”
In 2015, Jones earned a B.F.A. in interdisciplinary arts from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly. He studied painting for the first two years, then focused on sculpture for the second half of his tenure. It was only in 2017 that he returned to painting in earnest. However, he continues to combine his interest in architecture and three-dimensional art with his current work.
The next thing that distinguishes the young artist from his peers is his choice of subject matter. He creates futuristic scenes in striking colors, populated by unusual skyscrapers and streamlined trains traversing what often look like post-apocalyptic landscapes. “It’s all just my own vision,” says Jones. “Random things I think about. I paint things that remind me of science fiction and futuristic planets, supercars, and muscle cars.” He cites “Blade Runner” and other sci-fi films, artwork, and books as inspiration.
Last January Jones’ work was featured at the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Roxbury. He showed a triptych series called “Debut and Departing.” In his artist statement from that show, Jones wrote, “In my recent work, landscapes, architecture, and design are the main focal points in my making my own rules. Visually, my work embraces ideas and aesthetics interests similar to those of early 20th century Futurism, and of industrial design. Like those productions, my focus is on scale, proportions, and perspective. As an artist, the inspiration for creating my fictional geography is right in front of me wherever I go throughout the city’s complex and diverse infrastructure.”
At the Chilmark Tavern, the artist will be exhibiting seven pieces from various series.
Jones, who currently lives in Roxbury, is the nephew of longtime Island resident Marla Blakey, a well-known theater producer and dance choreographer. He grew up spending time at the family’s home on Martha’s Vineyard, and is pleased to be showing his work on the Island for the first time.
Sharing the exhibit space will be new work by Harry Seymour. On his website, Seymour states, “I draw on the beauty of Martha’s Vineyard and my African American cultural experiences for inspiration.” Among Seymour’s work on display will be a pastel painting called “Mama Rose,” a portrait of the cook for an organization called the Precious Project that helps orphaned and abandoned children in Tanzania. All proceeds from the sale of framed canvas prints of the image will be donated to the Precious Project.
The work of Nygel Jones and Harry Seymour will hang at Pathways at the Chilmark Tavern through the end of February. An opening reception with the artists in attendance will be held on Sunday, Feb. 3, from 3 to 6 pm.