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Harry Wade Jones, New Orleans Art Gallery Director, Dies at 74

Harry Wade Jones, co-director of a New Orleans gallery devoted to African-American art, died Saturday of respiratory failure at his New Orleans home. He was 74.

Although the Central Business District gallery bears the name of his wife, Dr. Stella Jones, “Harry was always the man behind the scenes helping to make everything happen,” said Beryl Johns, a friend of the couple. “He was never in the middle of the room.”

In addition to cultivating relationships with the artists whose shows his wife curated,  Jones did plenty of hands-on work, Johns said. “The night before an art opening, you’d see him with a hammer and nail, doing last-minute preparations …  He had superior skills in hanging a show, and that’s not an easy feat.”

A native of Galveston, Texas, Jones developed a career as a real-estate appraiser in Houston. When his wife decided to go to medical school and, later, to complete a residency in obstetrics and gynecology in New Orleans, friends said Jones not only took on parenting duties, but also drove his children to New Orleans regularly to see their mother.

The family moved to New Orleans in 1983. The couple had collected art for years and befriended many of the artists whose works they bought, so after she retired from medicine, they decided to open a gallery, said Dr. Critty Hymes, a longtime friend.

In addition to providing exhibit space to fledgling artists, the Joneses talked about art at schools and became a force in the arts community. Jones helped develop White Linen Night, an annual summertime art event, Hymes said.

Jones, who had a vast collection of bow ties, “was the person to talk to for a history of the art and a feeling for the art and the artist,” she said. “He was a great communicator.”

After Hurricane Katrina struck, Jones refused to give in to friends who said he and his wife should relocate their gallery, said their daughter Shaunna Jones. “He said firmly while shaking his head, ‘Thank you, but we’re staying.’”…

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