Born in Lubbock, Texas, Rance Jones moved with his wife Christina to New York City in 1991 to attend School of Visual Arts and pursue an MFA degree in Illustration. The couple moved from a tiny cabin on the Guadalupe River to settle in a typical five story tenement apartment in Manhattan’s West Village. The energy and pace of New York City was a constant source of inspiration for Rance as he pursued his career in Illustration, producing work for The New York Times as well as many magazines including a cover for the National Review.
In 1996, with the birth of their daughter, the young family moved to Washington Heights just above 181st Street. They were asked by their church to be part of a congregation in Central Harlem to help organize a children’s ministry. Even though it was only a few stops away on the subway, Harlem was a world apart, suffering from poverty, crime and neglect. Rance also volunteered with a chemical recovery program where he heard men share raw, heart-breaking stories from violent crime to prostitution for drugs.
That transformative stage of his life continues to shape his vision as an artist. Observing and depicting the lives of people from different parts of the world and often vastly different environments, means accepting that there can be many layers to a culture that are not apparent to an outsider. Rance approaches each painting with the intention of portraying an unfiltered quality in people that is never stereotyped, judgmental, romanticized or staged. Capturing body language, expression and environment are key elements to that process. When someone is caught up in their own thoughts, their facial expression and posture become a manifestation of how they are affected by their environment, society and culture and betrays the protective layers of self-preservation. The sharp, precise realism in his paintings brings a visceral honesty to the stories these lives tell. Knowing he can't fully understand all the complexities of the people he paints, Rance believes the expressiveness and presence of the characters in his work inherently tells their true story.