The acrylic landscapes of Michael Jones at the state Capitol have a simplified, precisely rendered, nearly abstract quality, in which design is as important as realistic content. The Broken Arrow artist is showing his paintings in the capitol's spacious first floor East Gallery.
Two mighty trees bracket our view of a field of round hay bales in front of a red barn and blue peaks as a scattering of birds fly overhead in “Oklahoma Gold,” the giant canvas which gave his show its title.
Even more monumental are the dense, fortresslike buildings of “Honorbilt Feed Mill,” brightly lit and silhouetted in front of a flat black background, with a tractor for scale, in a second very large canvas.
Not quite as large, but no less effective, is his acrylic of a nearly magical “Hidden Falls,” in blue-green forest, with a scattering of fall colors — nicely balanced by the exclamation point of a tall white aspen or birch tree.
In somewhat similar fashion, the tops of a stand of aspens seem to have almost caught fire, over the quiet waters of “Big Meadow Lake,” in another boldly executed composition.
In two more fine acrylics, the bare branches of a tall tree become a kind of “Oklahoma Lace,” and a giant white cloud seems nearly dreamlike, looming over mountains and buildings “After the Rain.”
Even more stylized and abstract are the round yellow-green trees which suggest theatrical spotlights in the forest “Above Creede,” and the circular “Poppies,” which float through his work of that title.
Excellent cityscapes include acrylics of “Tulsa at Night” and “Tulsa in the Rain,” plus a starkly simplified, minimal view of “Florence Rooftops.”
Jones said in a statement that he draws with white chalk and dark acrylic paint over an initial wash of burnt umber before cutting in darks and shadow patterns.
“Moving from dark to light, Jones aims to use the fewest colors possible, usually only the primaries, white, and the original burnt umber,” a gallery note explained.
Jones, who received a master's degree at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, is a professor at Rogers State University in Claremore and at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
Sponsored by the Oklahoma Arts Council, his “Oklahoma Gold” show of acrylic paintings, done over the past three years, is recommended during the rest of its run in the capitol's East Gallery.
— John Brandenburg