John Jonas was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and grew up on the peninsula south of San Francisco. After studying international studies and history at Antioch College in Ohio, he earned his bachelor of fine arts degree at the San Francisco Art Institute.
In 1957, Jonas was exposed to working artists when he got a job with the Art Students League in New York. He was hooked. In 1959, he attended the California School of Fine Arts and got a job selling Asian art.
“I had to get serious about earning a living so I got an accounting degree at San Francisco State,” says Jonas. He worked for Kaiser Aluminum for several years, traveling the world for his job.
In 1972, Jonas married wife , also an artist. The couple moved to Benicia in 1985 when Jonas took a CFO job with Syar Industries in Vallejo. After retiring in 1997, Jonas began to get serious about his art.
Jonas does both abstract and representational art, which is rare among artists. “I don't find a problem with it,” says Jonas.
He has mastered his own style of figurative art and portraits focusing on faces. His unique abstracts are often large-scale.
He works in acrylics, pen and ink and mixed media. “I like to experiment,” explains Jonas. “I've been using coffee and smoke. I am more of an alchemist than a painter. ” Jonas mixes his various styles. “My methodology gives me more freedom to follow my intuition... and to not get stale,” says Jonas. “The fun and excitement is taking risks, in the end, accomplishing some small success, which, when it happens, it's deeply satisfying.”
Since 1993, Jonas's work has been exhibited in Benicia, the East Bay, Marin, the North Bay and San Francisco at the de Young Museum.
For fun, Jonas travels with his wife, visits galleries, reads, spends time with family and is still an avid student. He is currently attending Atele in San Francisco, where he’s receiving training that will qualify him to teach.
Jonas joined in 1994 and has participated in every since then. He volunteers every year, hanging the artwork in the gallery.