Artist captures city’s beauty with a patriotic touch

“Philadelphia Alley” by Jeanine Jones.

We’ve known for some time the arts can help bring about healing. Just the other day, a new study touted that children who listened to their favorite music or audiobook after surgery showed decreased levels of physical pain. But just as the arts can act as a salve for our wounds, they also can spur us to action or pay tribute to others and their deeds.

And that’s something that Jeanine Jones, the Charleston Artist Guild’s featured artist for July, seeks to convey in her artwork.

“Being the daughter of a (World War II) veteran, I was taught to be proud of my country,” Jones says. “One might think that recent events (in Charleston) might make us ashamed to be Americans but, watching Charleston respond to horrible tragedy, I, again, see a nation that is changing and embracing progress.”

To capture that embrace of progress, Jones combines an appreciation of American patriotism with the quiet elegance of nature and captures the serenity of both in her art.

Her new show, “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” is a homage to the depth of American history combined with the locality of Charleston, where she lives.

No doubt Charleston provides it’s own richness in subject matter; history and beauty go hand in hand here in the Holy City. But Jones captures more than simply picturesque scenes of the Lowcountry in acrylic on canvas; she caps off the theme of independence with subtle flourishes of American icons in her work. American flags and veteran memorabilia peer out from the background of her pieces adding another layer for the viewer.

Jones began painting in the 1970s under the guidance of Ruth VanSickle Ford, former president of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. In an act of good fortune for the aspiring artist within Jones, Ford retired to Jones’ hometown, Aurora, Ill., where she gave the artist-to-be lessons.

Although Jones moved many times in her life, she learned to appreciate the individuality of the places she lived. And the uniqueness of Charleston and it’s spirit clearly inspires her current work.

Jones’ artwork is a stirring reminder of the positivity and gratitude that comes with patriotism, despite the hardships that accompany it.

“I am confident that, in Charleston, we will see something beautiful come out of something so tragic because of the examples of forgiveness,” Jones says. “My hope is that my work will inspire others to stand up and be a part of this change.”

Where the first week of July is typically rife with patriotism and celebration, it’s easy to lose that sense as the summer drags on and the heat becomes more oppressive. But Jones’ art reminds us that we are still surrounded by our freedoms, within our city streets and within the natural world.

Jones’ show, “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” will be on display at The Charleston Artist Guild Gallery, 160 East Bay St., until July 31.

The public is invited to attend an opening reception from 5-8 p.m. Friday at the gallery.

The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.