Jeff Jones is like a roadie for art and design.Instead of toting amps or setting up stage lights, he guides a mostly student work-study crew through the intricate stagings of MCAD’s most signature events—commencement exhibitions, the Art Sale, weekly hallway exhibits, special receptions. He’s the coordinator of the academic services department, though “I’ve had every other title under the sun.”
So it’s a sweet irony that he paid for art school by tearing things down. “I had a great summer job on a demo crew—we went into malls, mostly, and tore down former stores to the bare walls. It was well-paid work and I went all over the country—Portland, Maine; Trumbull, Connecticut; the Seattle-Tacoma area; Green Bay. Eventually, I also got into building up buildings, too.”
A de-construction/construction sideline seems like perfect experience for a gallery-preparing crew leader, and extra coincidence comes with knowing about Jones’s work as an MCAD photo major—“I used medium format cameras, 6x7 or 2¼ negatives, and did a lot of tableaux. I’d create a scene, using rear projection, and would photograph people and things within that setup. I also liked the shininess and weirdness of very glossy paper.”
The scenes Jones & crew prepare these days are all-important, and “our primary client is the student body. They’re also our primary employees, and the skills they learn are both useful and rewarding—in their own interest.” He’s stunned that no other schools use the Academic Services model that MCAD has—the centralized, focused attention to making student work look great, and having classrooms and studios always at the ready for learning. “I’ve consistently heard we’re the cleanest, most organized school around.”
Jones works for Lars Mason, director of academic services; Mason once thought Jones was “funny” as a naïve student who thought he had to pay for framing glass, when it’s all provided free. Today, their biggest challenges are naturally the all-important Art Sale and the commencement shows. “Art Sale is incredibly stressful,” he admits, but it’s one of the most positive events we do. The end result is that students may sell their first piece, or may even sell $10,000 worth of art—which is great, right? It’s a back-breaker, but it’s positive!”
Still aesthetically focused, Jones has branched out into home restoration and historical memorabilia as well. And he laughingly admits that other museums and exhibition spaces are lower on his agenda—“I go to museums, but I’m looking at the lights, the walls, the space itself,” he chuckles.