JONES, SHIELDS LANDON
recognized as one of America’s most important folk carvers of the twentieth century, was born, raised, worked, and made art in the Appalachian Mountains of WestVirginia. He is best known for his carvings of figures in wood and his stylized drawings. Jones was also an accomplished mountain fiddler. He attended school for eightyears, and in 1923 he married Hazel Boyer; they had two sons and two daughters. He worked on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad from 1918 until retiring as ashop foreman in 1967. Upon retirement and his wife’s death in 1969, Jones built a workshop and took up carving along with fiddle playing with country bands. In 1972he married Madeline Miller.Jones started carving small animals and winning ribbons at country fairs. In 1975 he began to make larger carvings, and heads. His figures, whether carved or drawn,male or female, are readily recognizable. He carved yellow poplar, maple, and walnut, and decorated his carvings with paint; they measure up to four feet in height.Jones’s drawings, however, are seldom larger than twelve by eighteen inches, and those drawings made with pen, ink, and crayon feature solid, boxlike human figureswith an open, friendly expression and large lips. The animals he draws are realistic, yet have a smiling, anthropomorphic character. The color and shading of hisdrawings is soft and subtle.Jones carved and drew what he knew. Growing up on a small farm in Appalachia with twelve siblings, he hunted and trapped animals, was good at making things,and liked whittling. For his carvings Jones used a properly aged log, which he first shaped roughly with a chainsaw, and then he sculpted details with chisel and knife.His early carvings were un-painted, but he eventually started to use paint, stain, and pencil to enhance them. His mature style often featured three country musicians, playing violin, banjo, and guitar, some measuring more than three feet in height. He made other figures of standing men and women, as well as busts from the shouldersup. All are solid, stoic, and powerful images with thick lips and necks. The men often sport a red bow tie, with arms carved separately and articulated like toy soldiers.The women are generally solid and full-breasted.A formal yet friendly man, Jones was proud of his work and the attention it received. Illness in his later years made his carvings and drawings less precise, but Jonesnevertheless continued to make art, and to show visitors his workshop and his recent works.
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