Biography: Robert Michael Jones (1951–1989) attended Christiana High School in Newark, Delaware before receiving his bachelor of fine arts degree in 1973 from the University of Delaware. He began exhibiting while at the university, and did so more extensively after graduation, with solo presentations of his polyurethane and fiberglass sculptures in the University’s Smith Hall, in the Haas Gallery at Bloomsburg State College in Pennsylvania (March 1973), and in the Delaware Art Museum’s 59th Annual Delaware Show (June 8–July 29, 1973). In early 1975, Jones’ poured, black polyurethane forms were the subject of a solo exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum entitled Rob Jones: Black Wilmington (January 13–February 9, 1975).
In addition to his personal artistic pursuits, Jones—along with fellow University of Delaware graduates Jonathan R. Fox and Michael Oleksiw—established the Fifth Street Gallery on the second floor of the Queen Theater in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. The gallery opened on April 30, 1974 with a photography exhibition and operated over the next four years, showcasing regional contemporary art, dance, and performance events. In the late 1970s or early 1980s, Jones relocated to New York City where he worked at Windows on the World in the North Tower and Raoul’s in Lower Manhattan. He continued his exploration of fiberglass figurative sculpture and installed shrouds throughout Pier 34 during the summer and fall of 1983. Like other New York-based artists utilizing vacant spaces for installation art and graffiti, Jones created a studio space within the pier—which he named the Anchovie Lounge—before the dock was razed in early 1984. In May 1984, a group of 15 figures were placed on the steel awning outside the Leonard Perlson Gallery in the Meatpacking District as part of Jones’ first solo exhibition in New York.