Nurse practitioner fulfills dream with art gallery business
By Tristan Bennett
Delta Digital News Service
JONESBORO — Local artists have an avenue to profit from their craft thanks to one very busy business woman with a passion for art.
As a college freshman, Angela “Angie” Jones first declared her major as art before ultimately ending up in the healthcare field. Now a nurse practitioner, it is not surprising that her love of art stuck with her.
“I’ve always gone back to it,” Jones said. “Painting walls and furniture when my kids were growing up, always having a craft project.”
Now an empty-nester, Jones decided to dive back in to her love of art in the time she used to spend at ballgames, dance and choir performances. She began taking art lessons with Gussi Causey, a retired Jonesboro Public Schools art teacher, and a big problem gave her a big idea.
“She had mentioned one day that there was really nowhere for her students to exhibit their work,” Jones said. “We had just moved downtown, and we had a commercial space below us that was empty.”
In June 2019, she opened Art House, a gallery in downtown Jonesboro for local artists to showcase and sell their work.
“So what started out as being something that maybe 10 to 15 artists could use to have a random art show here and there turned into the Art House,” Jones said.
Today, Art House has hosted 11 art shows and represented over 50 local artists.
One of those artists, Braden Walls, considers himself to be a drawer. He bases his style on that of Picasso: cubism. He said his involvement with the Art House has been a great experience.
Walls said before Art House opened, other galleries operated in the area but were selective about whose art they showcased.
“Angie opened up Art House and was like, ‘Everybody come put your work in and display it,’” Walls said. “Which, nothing like that has ever happened in Jonesboro before.”
Jones gave all local artists a chance to profit from their passion, and for that, local artist Sheila Guinn is thankful.
“We’ve needed this. We have other art galleries in town, but this one seems to be targeted to everybody. Every age. Every walk of life. All kinds of art and all kinds of people” Guinn said.
When her Art House journey began, Jones was shocked at the number of artists in Jonesboro as well as the lack of opportunities those artists had to showcase their creations.
“We have a lot of resources, we just don’t have a lot of avenues for local artists to get their work out there,” Jones said. “I believe we created that avenue for people to display their work, sell it and get it in the public’s view, and for people to realize that there are talented artists.”
Even in the middle of a pandemic, Jones continued to serve Jonesboro’s artists. She shifted from hosting large public shows to online galleries and private viewings. Jones said she thinks that will expand in the future on top of the traditional shows.
Not only does Art House support local artists, but Jones used art to help her community as well. When the pandemic hit, many restaurants downtown went to curbside-only dining. This meant fewer people on the sidewalks and fewer people visiting other businesses. She assembled a team of five local artists to create murals downtown designed specifically for selfies. That team was dubbed “The Mural Squad.”
“Our goal was to get more traffic downtown, and it’s something fun for people to do when they come down here as well,” Jones said.
The murals’ success led to a contest for more artists to add their own selfie backdrop to the wall, and the Squad has more plans to paint downtown in the future.
The work Jones does for the community requires a delicate balance in her life, and she said she could not do it without her husband, Scotty.
“He will do anything I ask him to and take on any project I ask,” Jones said. “He has been there to hang the art, there to help me with all the other stuff and give support as well.”
Her efforts do not go unseen by the artists she represents.
“She’s doing what a lot of people have wanted to do but just didn’t,” Guinn said. “It takes a lot of effort to do what she does, and we all really admire her for doing this.”
Jones is in the midst of moving the Art House to a new space downtown and plans to continue to advocate for local artists as well as bring art into the Jonesboro community.
Note: Featured photo submitted.