First IUS art professor dead

IUS Horizon

Jonas A. Howard, former professor emeritus of arts and chairman of the Division of Humanities, died Friday, Jan. 23, due to complications from surgery.  

At the beginning of his 33-year career at IU Southeast, Howard was the only full-time staff member.

Susan Moffett, professor of fine arts, said Howard was a major player for the art department’s creation.

“Jonas was the force behind the art department’s inception at IU Southeast in the 1970s,” Moffett said. “He saw himself as a father figure to the rest of the staff.”

Brian Jones, fine arts instructor, was a student of Howard from 1970-1971. He was subsequently hired by his former professor.

Jones said, while in class, Howard would give his students an assignment and spend the rest of the time talking about anything.

“He had a booming voice, and it was always present in the classroom,” Jones said. “He always took an interest in what students were doing. It was a signature of how devoted he was to us.”

Howard retired from IU Southeast in 1994.

Howard had exhibited work in more than 100 different art shows. His wife, Mimi Howard, said he had just finished an exhibition in Salisbury, N.C. and was working on another display before he died.

Jonas met Mimi while teaching at IU Southeast.

“Jonas was my buddy and my soul mate,” Howard said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better friend.”

Jonas and Mimi Howard were married for 41 years.   

Howard was featured in the first all-campus fine arts exhibition from Indiana University. In the book, Howard spoke of the different goals he had as an artist throughout his career and how they changed over time.

“My first experience with art was the result of a love of the look of the world,” Howard said. “This led to many joyous hours spent at a very early age in drawing and painting the land, waters, skies, and towns of my native Ohio valley.”

Aside from being an artist and a teacher, Howard was a singer. Jones, Moffett and his wife Mimi, said Howard could have an intelligent conversation about any

“At his memorial service, someone referred to him as a renaissance man and I think it’s the best way to describe him,” Moffett said.  

Moffett said although he could talk about anything, his work as a painter is how he will be remembered.

“Jonas was a painter, and it is his landscapes of sea and shore coupled with the play of light for which he will be remembered,” Moffett said. “Some of his later works from his past retirement life in Sarasota, Florida are lovely images depicting the transience of light and its color effects.”

Staff writer