We had the good fortune of connecting with Tyree Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tyree, how do you think about risk?
I learned young that taking risks is essential when it comes to any type of forward progression. Looking back on it, I’ve always leaned towards riskier activities that required every ounce of dedication. If there wasn’t complete dedication on my part, then I would fail or be unsatisfied with the results. This mindset developed early in my teens when I began hurdling. I was told that if I stuttered, then the race was over. There was no time to second guess my decision and the only option that I had was to trust in my abilities and run over that hurdle as hard as I could. I fell hundreds of times, I fell at big meets in front of huge crowds and had the wind knocked out of me. After those disappointments I was always told that it was a part of growth, and that motivated me to go even harder over the next hurdle set in front of me. Every step was essential when it came to hurdling, and none of them could be wasted on fear. I soon realized that I was a damn good hurdler. This mindset eventually translated itself into my everyday life and into each activity I pursued. It allowed me to travel to the other side of the world by myself at age 19. It allowed me to believe in my work and quit waitressing, and it allowed me to become the artist I am today. In terms of art, there is no way to convey your thoughts and emotions in such an intimate way without risk. Whether it’s adding a leaf in a spot that could complete or compromise the piece, or adding controversial elements or messages about what you believe into the piece; it takes some amount of risk. An artist is constantly putting who they are on the forefront to be judged by others and that alone has been the biggest risk I have ever taken in my life. It doesn’t get easier: the risk, but when I realized that I could not grow without it, I knew I had to stop second guessing my abilities and my work. It has given me a vigor to go harder over every hurdle in my way, and a confidence I never knew I could achieve.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a painter. I started as a pen artist, but I realized that it didn’t give me the range to fully encompass my ideas. Learning to paint was not easy, It took weeks of destroyed painting after destroyed painting to finally start creating work that I was happy with. There are so many different mediums and techniques that it was very overwhelming at first, and at times still is, but experiencing my own artistic development has been incredible. The only way I got over these challenges was by painting and drawing every day. I had to completely break down the way that I saw the world and move from my detailed view to a very simplistic one. I had to change the way I viewed shapes and colors and simplify it all. It’s gotten to the point where my view of the world has changed completely, and every person I look at I imagine drawing. I imagine the lines, the values, the colors and in turn every living thing has become so much more beautiful. I can’t see something now without wanting to paint it. A big focal point in my work for me is color. I love bright colors and after seeing so many dark paintings in museum after museum, I feel that this era of art needs to be vibrant. I also love to paint black and brown people because it isn’t so often that we see our faces in these spaces. It needs to become a common occurrence in the art world. I want to document our history, our time, our emotions and put them in the places they deserve. I think that black and brown history has been dark, so I want my people to be seen for who they are through color use. That is my goal and my passion.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite spots in the city… wow that is a hard question because I love every part of Denver. My itinerary for a trip would go like this: first we’d visit the Denver Art Museum. The Denver Art Museum has had wonderful exhibits and I’ve seen so much art ranging from Star Wars costuming, Jordan Casteel’s work, Monet’s work, and Dior! I’m also a member so we getting in free! For a more relaxed evening, I’d suggest the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. They’re always hosting really cool events, have a variety of different art on display (anyone remember the honey exhibit? Crazy.) and they have a super cool rooftop with drinks and live music. I love hanging out there. We would have to get margaritas at Señor Bear, because they have the best margaritas or pick out a brewery from the hundreds we have and get a beer. For food it’s a must to visit Beast and Bottle – it’s a pretty unreal culinary experience, and then for dessert: D Bar *this is an official request to put the Neopolitan souffle back on the menu*. For entertainment, a comedy show at Comedy Works is always fun or catching a show at the Ogden or Bluebird Theatre is a great time. I also love the Colfax One Up arcade, and the Pool Hall at Wynkoop Brewery. I could name one hundred more things to do, but these are definitely my favorites.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would love to shoutout multiple people who have inspired me and supported me. First, my partner for believing in me and pushing me to put myself out there, for never doubting my choices and for helping me with each show, selling pieces, and the grunt work. My partner’s love and support has gotten me through so many low and high points and I couldn’t thank him enough. I’d also like to shoutout my parents for cultivating this gift in me when I was a child, and for never shaming my path and what I loved to do, but only supporting and encouraging me. You both gave me the courage to pursue the unorthodox. And I’d like to thank an artist that I’ve really looked up to, Thomas Blackshear for giving me mentorship and encouragement to realize that my path is my own and that I have what it takes.