Work of Art
There are three things near to
Aaron Jones’ heart: family, art and Oklahoma. No matter how far his
hobby-turned-career has taken him, a small part of Aaron will always belong to
his home state.
Jones is one of the best at what
he does. And he has celebrity clients who will back that claim. He’s the go-to
person for tours and art education at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in
Bentonville, Arkansas. The world-class facility’s stunning architecture and
prized art collection attract enthusiasts from across the nation, including
Sure, Jones would not likely
give a detailed list of the many celebrities who have walked through the
gallery, but it was a question that begged to be asked. Before easing into his
answer with a soft laugh, Jones made it clear that he doesn’t like to tour and
tell—not even for his mother. While Jones may not be spilling any secrets, any
of the celebrities who have attended tours curated by him give rave reviews of
Crystal Bridges Art Museum.
Jones’ position at Crystal
Bridges is a job he’s been preparing for his entire life. “I’ve always loved
drawing,” says Jones. “I’ve been enamored with creating art from a young age.”
Jones grew up in what he calls a “musical family.” Naturally, he believed that
the talents of his family would ultimately lead him to pursue a career in
music, but he eventually found other artistic outlets to convey his passions.
“I never could gravitate towards music,” he says. “I don’t sing very well. I
don’t play very well. But with drawing, it seemed to come very easily to me.”
Jones has always been drawn to
works that help evoke emotional responses. As he vividly describes his favorite
comic books that he loved reading as a child, his love of classic horror films
and Godzilla, you truly get the sense that this is a man who is not only driven
by his passions, but one who is also continuing to thrive from them. Jones has
simply done what so many people hope to do in life—find a dream and live it.
After graduating from Edmond
Memorial in 1986, Jones decided to take the chance and really chase his growing
desires. Jones attributes a vast amount of his interest in art to the
consistent encouragement of his teachers at Edmond Memorial. One teacher in
particular had a major impact on Jones. Oklahoma artist George Oswald went
outside the normal school curriculum to truly engage with his students. It was
a teaching style that stuck with Jones. “Oswald wasn’t a teacher—he was an
artist,” says Jones. “I think that’s what really connected me. His style was
very different from what was in our textbooks.” After graduating from Edmond
Memorial, Jones attended Oklahoma Baptist University and pursued a degree in
art, continuing his studies until he ultimately obtained his master’s degree.
Today Jones is educating people
about his first love at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. “You don’t
often hear the title of interpretation manager at a fine art museum,” says
Jones. “It’s an individual who manages content.” Jones is a hybrid—a cross
between an art curator and educator.
Jones’ goal is to also make sure
that the information offered by the museum is not only contextual, but
interesting to attendees as well. He uses the feedback provided by gallery
attendees to heighten the experience for future guests. He researches stories
pertaining to the art featured in his gallery and shares them with guests to
truly find the common denominator that tends to connect individuals with works
of art. While a painting might evoke a sense of appreciation from gallery
visitors, it’s the story behind the art that will truly spark an “aha moment.”
That’s what Jones does best—he’s an art aha-er.
“I love nothing more than being in the
galleries, giving tours and learning something,” says Jones. “That’s a
For more information on Crystal Bridges, visit crystalbridges.org.