Let's talk about art: Robots by Don Jones

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This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.

Robots are regularly depicted in movies and on television as the friends we wish we had.

R2D2, The Iron Giant, even Optimus Prime, are just a few of the robotic characters who exude loyalty, friendship, leadership and even charm.

As a youngster, Pittsburgh artist Don Jones was inspired by science fiction and enjoyed making spaceships, rockets and robots. "My all-time favorite robot is still B9 from 'Lost in Space,' " he says about the 1960s television series.

His father introduced him to gas arc welding, brazing, wood working, construction and shop principles, he says, before he was 10 years old. "I've always enjoyed creating art and sculptures."

As an adult Mr. Jones worked in advertising and as an art director. But in 1998 he decided to devote himself to his art and began making commissioned robots.

His whimsical robot sculptures -- featured in The Holiday Shop at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts -- are made from scrap and reused materials. This includes a robot snowman on sleds, a jolly automaton with an empty cookie tin body, a dog made from binoculars and a camera. It's just the kind of scrap the Wall-E might've used to create gadgets in the popular Pixar futuristic movie.

About four years ago Mr. Jones began making robots with more personality to sell to individuals. "The reaction has been great. From kids to adults, they all smile or start laughing," he says.

Many admirers just want to figure out what they are made from. "I really enjoy the interaction," Mr. Jones says. To learn more about his art, visit www.jonesrobo-works.com.

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is expanding its Holiday Shop to fill the gallery's first floor. Besides Mr. Jones' robot sculptures, the shop also offers handcrafted gifts from more than 200 regional artists. A free opening reception with refreshments will be held 5:30 p.m. Friday to commemorate the start of the holiday season. For information, including expanded holiday hours: www.pittsburgharts.org

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