Her process is deeply personal yet easy for any creative person to understand. “It’s all about how a window looks, sometimes a lace curtain, a line or a color,” said Yolanda Howgren Jones, recently selected a Local Treasure by the Albuquerque Art Business Association on the recommendation of Michael Lakoff of Ricochet Gallery. “Or shadows, I am drawn to those. And then I remember someone saying, ‘When in doubt, paint a church!'”
Howgren Jones’s popular paintings are ubiquitous this season as she exhibits at The Surf Club in Corrales and at the 50th anniversary show of the Balloon Fiesta in Madrid. She has shown her art at Ricochet Gallery, most recently in Ricochet’s annual AlbuQUEERque celebration “Peace, Love, Pride” in June.
A lifelong journey from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe lands in South Dakota has landed her in Rio Rancho, where she paints out of a spare bedroom turned studio and either blasts music or keeps it hushed, depending on the mood of the artist and the tone of the subject she’s painting.
“I was a child when I moved to New Mexico with my parents in 1968. I think I was influenced by quite a few painters–Georgia O’Keeffe, certainly,” she said. She made her first painting, of the Sanctuary at Chimayo, for Mother’s Day when she was 16.
Her whimsical imagination allows her to paint serious subjects, like a portrait of Santo Niño de Atocha (the Jesus child) reminiscent of a holy card, although she is not Catholic. She also paints owls with hats, cows with flowers and crows with crowns. “The crown is not a symbol; I just think it’s a majestic bird so I painted the crown for fun,” she said. She also takes inspiration from her friends, one of whom suggested a painting of her stacked teacup collection, shown here.
Howgren Jones likes to sketch out an idea in a book before she uses acrylics to bring it to life. She especially enjoys painting in Taos, as evinced by “Taos Crow” perching in front of the Pueblo. Her artwork also finds itself on popular postcards and greeting cards. Her husband, John, is her public relations person. “I’m lucky he likes to do that because I wouldn’t,” Howgren Jones said. Her husband also had the idea for the “Madrid Love Bus” acrylic that she will exhibit in the show.
Rio Grande Surf Club (formerly The Village Print Shop), 4605 Corrales Rd., Corrales
Ricochet Gallery, “Grounded and Scattered,” First Friday and other events, 1102 Mountain Rd. NW, Albuquerque, 704.345.5029
Carnaval Aztlan, 2842 State Highway 14, Madrid, 5oth Anniversary of Balloon Fiesta show, 505.930.1780, carnavalaztlan.com