Gerald Harvey Jones, known professionally as G. Harvey, died Nov. 13 at age 84. In his time, Jones was among the most famous artists in Austin. He painted popular Western scenes, but also urban streetscapes set at the turn of the past century. His work was unapologetically nostalgic, casting a golden glow on views of an Americana that already were fading before his birth in 1933 in San Antonio.
During his youth, Jones lived in Kenedy, Corpus Christi and Kerrville, where his family owned the Wagon Wheel Lodge and where he graduated from Tivy High School. He started his higher education at Abilene Christian College where he met his future wife, Patty Marie Bentley Jones.
A graduate of North Texas State University, he was teaching industrial arts at O. Henry Junior High in Austin during the late 1950s when his wife bought him an oil paint set. Once he settled on a style, Jones’ career took off, helped by the patronage of celebrities such as Texas Gov. John Connally and President Lyndon B. Johnson.
If you visited the offices of a Texas lawyer, banker or legislator during the 1960s and ’70s — or even much later — you were likely to spy a scene from prolific Jones on the wall. An Austin street setting, for instance, hangs in a prominent spot at the Headliners Club.
Some observers compared his work to the Impressionists, others to Texas artists José Arpa and Porfirio Salinas, as well as Robert Julian Onderdonk. Still others, later, made a connection to popular “Painter of Light” artist Thomas Kinkade. He also worked in bronzes and his art was shown and sold in Dallas, New York City, Santa Fe and elsewhere.
The first dealer to purchase Jones’ work was D.C Bradford of the Country Store Gallery on Lavaca Street in 1956. In 1965, what later became Shoal Creek Gallery was founded by Jones with two partners, but he sold it after one of those partners died. In 1985, Jones moved with his family from Austin to Fredericksburg, where they owned the large, historic Weyrich-Arhelger complex at 424 Main St. His son-in-law, Tim Taylor, owns Whistle Pik Galleries, which represents Jones there.
Starting in 1987, Jones donated yearly paintings to raise money for Focus on the Family, a Christian advocacy and education group.
He will be interred at the Texas State Cemetery and a public memorial is planned for early spring 2018. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation or a charity of one’s choice.