By Nancye Tuttle
LOWELL -- Artist Michael Jones and his wife, poet Christine Jones, find inspiration in working out and working on art together. On frequent trips to swim and hike at Walden Pond, they often take breaks so he can sketch and she can write, most often on the same subject. Then, when they return to their Billerica home, they continue the collaboration.
Their shared work, based on explorations at Walden and elsewhere in the Merrimack Valley, is featured in Sustenance through Feb. 24 at the Whistler House Museum of Art, 243 Worthen St., with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Christine Jones will read her poetry at 3 p.m.
"Our paintings and poems reflect our joy of the discoveries and simple pleasures we find together every day," they note in their artists' statement. "A farm stand under snow reminds us, a hole-punch in the raven sky reminds us, and sprouts in a Dixie Cup remind us that in nature there is something to sustain each one of us."
Michael Jones, a UMass Lowell professor and elite triathlete, has painted all his life. Although unsuccessful in making the 1972 Olympic team, he won several national and world championships. He has been a judge in triathlon trials for the Olympics and was commissioned to design the U.S. Olympic triathlon posters for the 2004, 2008 and 2012 teams.
"I've almost always painted," he said. "My mom, Marlen Jones, was an artist and worked with other artists who encouraged me."
He and Christine, who is also a physical and massage therapist, met while both swam on a masters swim team. Their collaboration began with their marriage in August 2010, Christine said.
"I've always enjoyed painting, but the writing started when I fell in love with Michael. It opened new creative doors for me," she said.
Their first collaboration was inspired by the poetry of Cape Cod poet Mary Oliver and was featured in a show at the Cape Cod Art Museum in Dennis.
The show includes images and poems about Walden and the Rotondo Farm, a vintage farm stand on Route 62 in Concord, as well as a painting and poem that pay tribute to the late abstract expressionist painter Arshile Gorky. A collection of Gorky's works is on permanent loan to the Whistler House.