Monday, January 16, 2012

Sustenance: An Exhibition by Michael and Christine Jones

Generations, by Michael Jones, 2011, oil and charcoal on canvas, 20"x20"

. . . We grow, 
we sustain, we wait for purple stars of Spring.
~Excerpt from "Rotondo Farm" by Christine Jones, 2011

In keeping with my word for the year, inspire, I thought I'd share the work of two people whose approach to art and life never ceases to inspire me.  I first met poet Christine Jones and her husband, painter Michael Jones, a couple of years ago when I began working with Christine on her poetry.  Since then, I've had the good fortune of meeting with Christine on a regular basis, and I've watched her poems grow and blossom into rich reflections on her many passions, including running, swimming, gardening, and writing, to name just a few.  Some of her recent work appears in The Offering, published by the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Michael is a professional painter and a professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell where he teaches Art Law and directs the Legal Studies Program.  The U.S. Olympic Committee commissioned him to create the Triathlon poster for the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympic Games.  He painted the official portrait of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, and his paintings have been exhibited at museums throughout the world.

Rotondo Farm: Winter Farm Stand by Michael Jones, oil on canvas, 2011, 24"x48"

Over the past two years, Michael and Christine have shown collaborative exhibitions of her poetry and his oil paintings at the Cape Cod Museum of Art and the Tsongas Gallery in Concord, Massachusetts.  This month they have a new exhibition at the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, Massachusetts.  

The exhibition, Sustenance, demonstrates a careful attentiveness to the everyday, especially as it pertains to the natural world.  As they write in their artists' statement: "Our paintings and poems reflect our joy of the discoveries and simple pleasures we find together every day.  A farm stand under snow reminds us, a hole-punch in the raven sky reminds us, and sprouts in a Dixie Cup remind us that in nature there is something to sustain each one of us."

The couple have two homes in Massachusetts, one on Cape Cod, and the other in the Merrimack Valley, thus their work is inspired by the waves and sand dunes of the Atlantic as well as the quiet peace of inland farms and Thoreau's Walden Pond.

Rotondo Farm: Fall Farm Stand by Michael Jones, oil on canvas, 2011, 24"x48"

For weeks
we waited for the seeds 
we planted
in Dixie Cups 
to become winged leaves . . .
~Excerpt from "The Garden Series I" by Christine Jones, 2011

While the show runs until February 24, I'm excited to say that there will be a reading and exhibition reception this coming Saturday, January 21, from 2-4 p.m.  Directions to the museum can be found here.  Christine will be sharing some of her poems, and it promises to be a wonderful event.  I for one can't wait!  For more information about the show and the artists, visit the Whistler House Museum's website.

I've worked with hundreds of writing students and poets over the years, and few have had the commitment to the process of revision--of re-seeing a work--as Christine does.  I want to share one more excerpt from a poem that she revised many times.  Her persistence and patience were met with a poem that the reader wants to return to again and again, discovering something new each time.  I'll end here with the poem's first few lines:

Time is not a bird.
It does not fly.

It is the branch when the bird alights
shaking the leaves to wake the wind.
It comes right in.
~Excerpt from "Time is Not a Bird" by Christine Jones, 2011


  1. I like your word for the year ......inspiration, it is a jewel of a choice.

  2. I can definitely see where they would inspire you. Just lovely, both the art and the art of the poem.

  3. What a wonderful piece and painting.... this has made such a smile on my face. I am so pleased to be able to say Thank You for such a great night for me filled with childhood memories... Sincerely, Carol Rotondo (the niece of Mr. Fortunato Rotondo (Frank)) the owner of the Rotondo Farm in these paintings..... you have brought such a great flood of memories of myself and my brother running thru the farm grounds and grape vines... choosing our most prized pumpkins.... fond fond memories... Thank You for your Tribute !!!!! ( also on facebook carol rotondo


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