Even though the setbacks which Dennis Jones has faced in his life include drug addiction and loss of a child, home, dog and multiple jobs, he couldn’t be more optimistic.
He went from living in his car to being recognized at his very own art show entitled “Pop Icons and Abstractions: The Art of Dennis Jones” on Wednesday.
It represented a lifelong dream come true for Jones because it was what he envisioned when he attended other art shows thinking, “What I wouldn’t give for people to be eating cheese and crackers and looking at my art on the wall.”
Helping the disadvantaged
Depaul USA, which operates the Depaul House, is a non-profit organization that offers homeless and disadvantaged people the opportunity to fulfill their potential and move toward an independent future.
Executive Director Chuck Levesque said the exhibit was created to unite residents and the community through programming focused on homelessness through unconventional means.
He said he hopes this type of event will create a “third place” where DePaul is not just residence or workplace, but somewhere people from various walks of life can enrich the lives of one another.
“I love the fact that art stayed with him regardless of where he was and when he lost his dog, he recreated it by painting it and that is somebody that really believes in the power of art,” said Levesque.
The art-show scene
During the exhibit, attendees had an open conversation with Jones about his life, artwork and music that served as therapy as he worked to overcome homelessness.
He said his healing process began when he started painting at a local Starbucks where he received commissions for his artwork.
While the exhibit only displayed a small portion of his work, Dennis said it was important for him to give back, with the hope that residents find strength in his story.
“One of the main things is to stay optimistic and to understand that you came this far, you can continue on,” said Jones. “The hardest part is over. The hardest part is to literally get off the street and away from negative activities that might cause you to go there and be in a stable situation so you can focus on some direction.”
DePaul House resident Broderick Green said that Jones inspired him. The show made him believe it was possible to move past homelessness.
“Homeless is just a circumstance or situation that I suffer, and I want to help us get away from that and dwelling on this situation instead of where you are going,” said Green. “Everytime you say something about yourself, it does not have to be that you are homeless and that is what Dennis does for me.”
Jones now lives in a permanent supportive housing facility at Connelly House and continues to paint at Starbucks for himself and commissions. Soon, he said he will head to the West Coast to pursue a music career.