Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Iowa Artist

Iven Jones


Local artist Iven Jones is a self-taught visual artist who paints mostly acrylic on canvas.

When Iven Jones sold one of his paintings of Tupac Shakur, he felt inspired to continue with his work. That one push affirmed his love of painting, and he hasn’t looked back.

Jones considers himself a visual artist. He paints urban/pop culture art and current Black culture trends, including protest art regarding George Floyd. A self-taught artist, he paints mostly acrylic on canvas.

After a long-time employer fired Jones, he focused on his painting career. 

“I took a leap of faith and put everything I had into my art,” he remembers. “After that job — I put a lot of time into the place — I decided, if I’m going to work, I want to do something for me instead of making someone else rich.” 

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Jones grew up in an all-Black community in Chicago. As he got older, he realized that some Blacks lacked self-love. One of his favorite art pieces reflects the meaning of self love, which starts as a child. The painting shows a young Black girl with a Black doll. 

Painting urban/pop culture art has proven to be a strength for Jones.

“It starts when you’re young,” he says. “You have to have images that look like you — that’s the type of love she wants for herself.”

It’s challenging for Jones to believe in his own artistic talents and gifts, but the difficult times pushed him to do better. 

“In my experience at art shows, sometimes I’m the only Black person there,” he says. “I wasn’t selling anything and sat in my tent. It was discouraging at one point. After a while, I realized that experience pushed me. I wanted to paint even more.” 

Jones sells a number of prints, saying the past year was one of his best yet. He did a live painting at Jasper Winery for an art auction. His mom from Chicago was there to witness him in his element.

“A man came over, saying how the painting spoke to him,” he remembers. “I thought it was the greatest, especially because my mom was there to see it.”  

Eventually, he’d like art to be a full-time job, but it doesn’t pay all the bills yet. 

“If business fell into place, I’d love it,” he says. 

He had an art showing at the Barnum Factory, where he painted an art mural. The owner helped him with art shows, giving encouragement. 

Jones’ favorite art piece, of a young Black girl with a doll, reflects his definition of self love, which starts as a child.

“She told me to own it and helped me figure things out on my own,” he says, grateful for the boost. 

He says that painting changed his life. 

“I first thought of it as a stress reliever. It kept my head on right,” he says. “People kept telling me I need to do something with my art.”

Jones paints every night when he gets home from work. When he finishes a painting, a sense of accomplishment washes over him.

“I’ll always be me — trying to be the best I can,” he says. “Every painting gets better. It’s a confidence builder and reinforces my passion for art.” ♦

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