January 11, 2011
Born on Jan. 24, 1942 in Louisville, Ky., Gail E. Jones died on Nov. 18, 2010 of breast cancer-related causes in Fort Myers.
A ceramic artist living on Sanibel, Gail taught at BIG Arts and maintained her own
studio, Full Circle Pottery. Like her art, Gail was a unique soul, beloved teacher and she left a powerful legacy. Always exploring new ideas and techniques, she brought boundless energy to every class. Her work was shown at numerous galleries and shows, including the N.C.E.C.A Juried CLAY National.
Gail graduated with a B.S. from Simmons College in Boston, married her first husband, Eric Essene, and together they lived in Berkeley, Calif., Cambridge, England and Canberra, Australia. A free spirit and adventurer in life, Gail mountaineered from California to Corsica. She moved to Ann Arbor, Mich. in 1970 and was a member ot the Potter's Guild and the Ann Arbor Art Association and was best known for her raku, sculptural fountains and crystalline glazed platters.
After marrying John D. Jones in 1981 and moving to St. Charles, Ill. in 1988, Gail taught at the Fine Line Creative Arts Center and was an Illinois Artisan. The couple moved to Sanibel in 2004 and, as a Florida Craftsman, Gail was an active member of the Florida Artist Group, the Southwest Florida Crafts Guild and vice president of the local chapter of the National League of American Pen Woman. In her final year, Gail returned to sculptural work with poignant exploration of ancient forms through her latest Sacred Voices series.
An avid camper, Gail shared her love for the outdoors with her children and grandchildren. She was famous for great parties, from Halloween to an annual Derby Day party on Sanibel.
Gail is survived by her loving husband, John; her daughter, Michelle Haroldson, son-in-law Jeff and grandsons, Kai and Soren, of Excelsior, Minn.; her daughter, Ren Essene, of Washington, D.C. and Missoula, Mont.; a step-daughter, Angela Koch, and her husband, Victor, and daughter, Jennifer; grandchildren — Isabella, Serena and Balthazar. She was preceded in death by her parents, Marie and Irvin Bensman, M.D.
There will be a retrospective show and celebration of Gail's life at BIG Arts at 7 p.m. this Friday, Jan. 14. Memorial gifts may be sent to the Fine Line, 6N158 Crane Road, St. Charles, IL 60174, or BIG Arts Gail E. Jones Memorial Fund, 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel, FL 33957.