AfriGeneas States Research Forum
Re: [AL] Found keys to info on Jones
In Response To: [AL] Active Collection ()
Excerpt from A Century of African American Art edited by Amalia K. Amaki
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Amalia K. Amaki
Building an art collection is rarely perceived as a radical or political act. But there is a distinct aggressiveness to the acquisitions methodology of Paul R. Jones that suggests just that. From the beginning, he aligned collecting with social and moral responsibility, perceiving it as a necessary, though seldom acknowledged, affirmation of the intrinsic value of African American expression to the totality of American art. He approached collecting as a means to constructing community, recalling how art-related events have historically appealed to African Americans across social and other strata. Moreover, he found art so inviting and alluring that it constituted an effective mechanism for cross-cultural engagement.
Recognized as having one of the top art collections in the country,i Paul Jones was motivated to collect largely because of absence—too few works by African American artists on museum walls, in gallery displays, and at auctions. Though not considerably wealthy, he was sustained in his collecting endeavors by a firm belief in the cultural merit of the creativity of the artists and a respect for the inevitability of change, convinced that the time would come when the accomplishments of African American artists would be sufficiently recognized.
Intrigued by art at a young age, his maturation began in the small mining camp on the outskirts of Bessemer, Alabama, where he grew up. There, under the watchful eyes of parents Ella Reed Phillips Jones and William “Will” Norfleet Jones, and four older stepsisters, Sophronia “Sal” Phillips Sims, Maggie “Moch” Phillips Ray, Louella “Pip” Phillips, and Leah Kate Phillips Watts, he was encouraged to actively explore his surroundings—a very loving, secure, and creative environment. He was groomed in his youth to understand the subtle negotiation and conciliation techniques that established his father as one of the most powerful men in the county. Grounded in a strong work ethic, he was raised to appreciate family, respect friends, and honor the nobility of a humble, simple existence.
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