Jon LaBeau, a lifelong resident of the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, holds a Masters Degree in Education from Aquinas College in addition to a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Grand Valley State University. In 1990, and again in 1992, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs named LaBeau Michigan Wildlife Artist of the Year. In 1993 and 1997, he won the competitions for the Michigan Trout and Salmon Stamp with paintings of a Grayling and a Brook Trout, respectively. In addition, he has illustrated columns for a national flyfishing publication and has produced work to help support several causes. Included in these are organizations which attempt to fight breast cancer, the Pregnancy Resource Council, several chapters of Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited and other conservation organizations. Increasingly of late, LaBeau has come to see his work as more about sharing than about attempting to sell pictures. Since 2001, he has been an intermediate and elementary school art teacher for the Byron Center Public Schools, desiring to further share vision with our young people.
I have many meditations which I could share regarding that which has caused me to create art and teach. Some of the most vivid are of fly-in fishing trips to the wild country of Quebec in search of brook trout, canoeing rivers of northern Michigan, standing in the evening river lighted by nothing but the sparkle of thousands of fireflies. Writing of fishing, times past spent with my grandfather and shooting rolls of film while sniffing around for wild things all combine with each breath of every day past to assemble the body of work I’ve produced. Some of my paintings have been very illustrative, very literal interpretations of what I see. Others have been reactive and barely coherent, to the extent that they may well appear to be little more than ravings. Each is a symbol in its own right, and none should be seen as too much more than a mile marker. If there is so much as a sniff of profoundness or any fruit borne that might be called positive, then to God be the glory, for I am only a conduit, and the thing about conduit is this: it simply acts as a channel through which hot wires pass. It does not affect the wire or the electricity in any other way, unless it ceases to stick to its purpose.
When I make a piece of art, I am not producing anything which has not already been somehow created, I am simply reiterating, sorting, prioritizing for myself certain aspects of Creation.
…Or finding humor or commentary in our perceptions…