Currency / 2020 / New York City area
KB Jones’s Currency Paintings
KB Jones works in the present – she’s a kind of productive opportunist, confronting the new offerings as they appear, not shrinking or losing time looking over her shoulder. She moves around a lot – she travels, she changes studios – and she paints on the fly as well; she has the chops. Even if she has a studio, KB sets up on the street, in the park, at the kitchen table, in front of the computer, and with a confident hand, works quickly without avoiding detail. The resulting freewheeling catalogue is kaleidoscopic, and astute. Recent paintings of small piles of cash, titled Currency, are prime examples. It’s a cliché to describe still life painting as revealing what’s hidden in plain sight, but in the case of these paintings, created and viewed against the chaos and devastation of pandemic and long overdue racial, political, and economic reckoning, it’s true.
In the painting shown here, the money appears as it would freshly pulled from a back pocket or wallet at the end of the day: it’s rumpled, and it’s not in great quantity – $132. I still get a lift, however, from that amount. It includes a $100 bill – I rarely carry that much, and the casualness of the arrangement makes me feel like I happened upon it. It promises a spree of minor indulgences. The reverie quickly crashes though: not only is cash harder to get and harder to use, much less enjoy, under pandemic precautions, the imagery on the bills registers. George Washington peers out from the rumpled paper slightly distorted but unequivocally steadfast, calm, conjuring the most noble and decent of the country’s inception. The emblems and flourishes, rendered with equal measure of care and speed, further remind of admirable ambition. The painting pulls these symbols, ever-present in the background of daily life, into the foreground, and brings into devastating relief the dire present. The dire present reframes the past as well though, laying bare the contradictions of the ‘noble’ inception: the barbaric injustices undergirding American institutions purporting equality and justice, and that continue in no less potent forms in the present. The painting entices and then, without pretense or accusation, holds the viewer accountable. The call to action is urgent. The past, hidden in plain sight, looks on.
Currency is currently on view in the traveling show Private View.
Car Wash / 2012 / Albuquerque, New Mexico
This mural entitled Car Wash was the final destination for High Desert Test Site in 2013. Car Wash was 18′ high and 225′ long and was painted on the back of an Octopus Car Wash on Old Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The images depict a portion of the mural, along with the empty lot and architectural details of the car wash structure itself.
Landscapers / 2017 / Los Angeles, California
Landscapers was a series of paintings on vinyl and shade screen made for a show entitled Members Only. The show was organized by the National Park Service, at Peter Strauss Ranch, in the Santa Monica Mountains of Los Angeles.
Mural for Kids / 2019 / New York, New York
This mural was painted for an independent school in New York City. The bottom half of the painting was done in chalkboard paint, so students can draw and add to it.
Well / 2019 / Brooklyn, New York
These three paintings are from a body of work, which looked at the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin. These paintings were exhibited in a show called Well, at the Sunview Luncheonette in Brooklyn, New York.