I’m an artist. Mainly a painter, sometimes a filmmaker, often a performance artist, but really I’ll experiment with almost any form of expression. First, above all though, I am a painter. I started this website in 2012, a year that really was, in many ways, the end of the world for me. I began it with these words, scrawled down right after my lover, muse, and partner-in-crime had died of cancer and the bank had taken our only home while he was dying in the hospital:
Out beyond the rubble and debris of industrialized civilization, past glorious splashes of graffiti strewn across the concrete landscape, out on the other side of the tracks… This is where I have come now, a refugee searching for meaning. I’m here because I have nowhere else to go. I do this. And God help me, I can do no other.
I was homeless when I wrote that, hiding out in a warehouse out by the railroad tracks, underneath the Serpentine…. Since then, some things have changed and other things haven’t. But a lot of people have asked for information, bios, artists statements, and whatnot. So I’ll add a little more.
I move around a lot, so I’m not sure where to say I’m from. Originally the San Francisco bay area, but I left there early and lived for many years in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve moved across the country and back several times, mainly between New York and the Northwest but I also did everyone’s obligatory 2 years in Las Vegas, and for a year I lived at Beck Haus, just outside of Cleveland.
Most recently, I’m living along the Hudson River in New York, where the skies really do look just like they do in the paintings of Thomas Cole and Frederic Church.
I’ve studied many different styles and movements, but in the end I prefer to forego pedantic and limiting references to art-school jargon to explain my work, and instead just tell you that I paint what seems to need painting, in the style that it wants to be painted in. I am influenced by all painters and artists, especially those whom I have lived with and painted beside. My grandfather was a painter from the Bay Area who was known for his modernist work in the 1950s and 1960s, and later for his realism. (I always liked his modernist work the best.) He taught me how to paint almost before I learned to walk, so I will give him credit for a lot of what I do. My work, both my films and my paintings, has shown all over the world.
My art is heavily influenced by both the internal conflicts I struggle with and by events in the world around me. Because I came of age in the Pacific Northwest during a time of upheaval, when we were struggling to save the last remaining North American old growth forests from the saws of capitalism, and when we were finally fighting effectively for the rights of non human animals, my art became very political for a long while. The life or death struggle for the earth and the heroic awakening of compassion for the non humans have been major themes.
But my work has undergone a shift in recent years, toward a more abstract, and perhaps less hopeful exploration of alienation and destruction. When my lover died, I saw his illness as an inevitable symptom of the destruction of our own environment, a consequence of the toxic landscapes that capitalism created. Since then, my canvases have held a lot of grief, a lot of confusion, and a lot of tangled fractals eeking out the thin strands of connection – sometimes severed – between what is within and what is without. I became interested, for awhile, in painting figures in gas masks as metaphor for the ways in which we are forced to survive in a world we have made toxic, the ways in which those of us who survive are alienated from each other and the world by our fears and our technologies, and the ways in which we are trying desperately to adjust to the new dystopia.
So things got gloomy for awhile. But by the end of 2015, I began climbing back up into the world again. I started spending a lot of time in New York City and her beautiful tangle of order and chaos became enthralling to me. Suddenly, I find myself painting rectangles over rectangles over rectangles, trying to absorb and process the shape of of this city as it reflects itself over my own inner landscapes. I am captivated by the filtered light and ominous geometry at the bottoms of her concrete canyons, by the splashes of light against her mysterious nightscapes, and by the jumbled pedestrians and incongruous, spider-webbing trees and chaotic bits of exposed infrastructure that interrupt the straight lines and give meaning to the flat surfaces constantly threatening to engulf the unwary. So it’s cities for awhile.
Art is like this. It’s the soup we drink in and piss out and swim in. It’s the endless interplay between ourselves and the world; it’s the ways we pull things apart and put them together; the means by which we process and interact with and understand the pieces of the puzzle of the Universe. So our expressions of it are always changing. Thus, I have to just go back to what I said in the first place… I paint what seems to need painting, in the style that it wants to be painted in.
– Cat Jones
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