East Village Artist M. Henry Jones, Contemporary of Keith Haring, Dies

Posted on: June 27th, 2022 at 5:12 am by

M. Henry Jones working on Go-Go Girl, a “stroboscopic wheel” inspired by early moving picture devices, Photo: Marc H. Miller

M. Henry Jones, a member of the East Village arts scene for over forty years, died last week (either June 16 or 17) at the age of 65. We’re told, though unconfirmed, the cause of death was a form of cancer. Jones was a neighborhood fixture for decades, in part, because of his storefront studio Snake Monkey on Avenue A.

Marc H. Miller wrote the following obituary in his esteemed Gallery 98 Bowery newsletter, which is reprinted here.

I am sad to relay the passing of M. Henry Jones, a singular artist whose animated films, kinetic sculpture, and 3-dimensional photographs provide a fortuitous glimpse of future advances in technology, as well as the impact these changes had on art.

As an early participant in the East Village art scene, Jones was part of a gifted group of artists that included Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and John Sex, all of whom attended the School of Visual Arts, and later helped create the nightclub-infused art celebrated in MoMA’s 2018 exhibition Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983. Much of Jones’ early art connects to the downtown music scene and was first shown in nightclubs as an innovative form of multi-media entertainment.

Fans of Jones often refer to him as a “technical genius” but he is probably better described as a forward-looking visionary blessed with stubborn perseverance. Because his first works date nearly a decade before the widespread use of computers and digitization, Jones was restricted to labor-intensive analogue techniques to create effects that would soon be facilitated by digital programs like Photoshop.

Today we marvel not only at the visual effects he produced but also at the arduous, time-consuming processes he needed to use to achieve them. In hindsight it becomes clear that the technology itself was the true subject of Jones’ work, as well as its most important component.

You can visit Gallery 98’s online exhibition Photo Cut-Outs: From M. Henry Jones’ Animated Film Soul City, 1977-79.

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