Exhibit preview: Rob Jones transforms the average into extraordinary

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The current exhibit from local artist Rob Jones at Tacocat Cooperative finds the heroic aspects of everyday people. “Anyone, Everyone, No One: Portraits and Painted Blues” is centered on masks — something Jones has been fascinated with since childhood — but it’s also a way for the artist to recognize the people who’ve been his own personal superheroes.

The series started with Jones creating portraits of musicians who wear masks (MF Doom, Daft Punk), but there are only so many who don a disguise. Then he looked to those closest for inspiration, resulting in portraits of his friends and family where the subject wears an iconic superhero mask (Wolverine, Batman, The Flash, etc.).

“I was thinking about why we wear masks, for ceremonies, to hide our identity or increase it,” Jones said during an interview in the Grandview artist collective’s gallery. “Then I started painting some of my family and friends, which is something I’ve never done. That kind of lends itself to that superhero, an extraordinary average person.”

To transform those “extraordinary” people in his life — from his two sons to other local artists who’ve been supportive — Jones let his subjects choose their mask from his collection or bring in their own. He was surprised by how many times the mask matched the personality.

“My sister-in-law chose Wolverine and she very much has that personality. Out of all the ones she could have chosen, she chose that one. Wow, that’s kind of funny. It became this cool exercise in psychology,” Jones said.

Along with the 40-plus portraits, the solo exhibit presents actual masks and even brought the two different mediums together. Jones created eight Japanese Yokai masks, and incorporated a mask created from found objects into one painting to pay homage to an African mixed-media artist’s creative process.

This experiment has resulted in Jones finding a meaningful way to celebrate those most important in his life through art, and could lead to future artistic endeavors. He said the masked portraits are open-ended because there are endless options when it comes to masks.

Photo by Meghan Ralston

Tacocat Cooperative

Through April 26

Reception: 6-9 p.m. Friday, April 10

937 Burrell Ave., Grandview