A man and his mural
October 29, 2013
By Erin Hoffman
Evan Jones’ work never stops. Although it has been 18 years since he finished the Darigold mural in downtown Issaquah, every three years he returns to touch it up to keep the colors bright and prevent sun damage.
In 1995, Jones, an ex-Darigold employee and lifelong Issaquah resident, was approached by his old boss to consider painting the mural. Jones, along with lead artists Larry Kangas and Nicole Parsons, collaborated with many Issaquah organizations, including the Issaquah History Museums and the Issaquah Arts Commission.
“We had a bunch of photographs laid out on a table and we chose what we thought would look good,” Jones recalled.
Jones said the artists didn’t have much creative license, as all of the involved organizations had clear ideas of what they wanted the mural to be.
“I think it’s important for people who drive down Front Street every day to see what the past was like,” Jones said. “Now it’s completely changed, and in many ways, lost. We were just trying to hold on to some part of the past.”
As a child, Jones’ mother encouraged him to pursue art.
“She bought me a set of pastels when I was four or five years old. I don’t think there were very many kids who had pastels when they were a kid,” he said.
Though he always loved art and excelled at it, he went to college with no intention of pursuing art.
“I studied all kinds of other stuff, but the art came so easy to me,” Jones said. “I struggled in most other classes—math and science and things like that—but art was something I could breeze through.”
Though he graduated from Washington State University and Western Washington University with degrees in fine art, Jones didn’t begin his professional career as an artist until 25 years ago. After getting a divorce, he started making changes in his life.
“A good friend of mine said, ‘Why don’t you just try to be an artist?’ So I did,” he said.
The mural, a well-known landmark, is not Jones’s only imprint on the community. He is also the artist behind the “Eagles” mural in the Issaquah High School gymnasium, as well as a newly-completed mural at Echo Glen Children’s Center, a juvenile correctional facility, which he painted with the help of its students.
“Those kids have had a really hard life. Working with them and seeing their reaction to their accomplishments really helped them, I think,” Jones said.
Though well-known for his murals, Jones says that his favorite thing to paint is portraits.
“I really enjoy painting portraits of people just for the sheer challenge of it,” said Jones. “It’s hard to do because all it takes is one little difference in the color of their eyes or skin to make it not look like them. I’ve painted a few portraits in my life that made people cry.”
He also likes experimenting with textures and mediums. After visiting Europe and being inspired by artists painting on the sidewalk, he started experimenting with coarse surfaces and pastels. Using more experimental methods, Jones completed his favorite project, a series of paintings of crows, which hang in his own home.
“Crows are arguably one of the most intelligent birds in the world,” Jones said of his fascination with them. “There’s a lot of wonder there.”
Aside from his work on the Darigold mural, Jones is currently working with Construx, a software company in Bellevue, as well as with various people for paintings for their private residences. For more information on Jones and his work, go to evanjonesartistry.com.