Jen Jones Murray
Photo credit: James Crichlow, Jacksonville Business Journal, Rockaway Photo
Jen Jones Murray (née Leonard) moved to Northeast Florida from San Diego, California as a teen. She attended the University of North Florida (UNF) and has a degree in English with minors in Art History and Business. Jen is the mother of four amazing children and has served as a mentor to artists and art collectors across her region for more than 25 years.
In 1993, Jen graduated from Nease High School in St. Augustine, Florida and received her first position in the art industry as a summertime, photo assistant for internationally recognized, underwater photographer, Christina Hope. Her charge was diving into the swimming pools which served as the photographer's magical, underwater sets to help design the fabric folds and other scenery elements for her models, as well as assist in art consultations with clients. She was hooked and the beginning of a career was born.
During Jen's college years, she became a licensed Florida insurance agent which partly supported her educational endeavors. In 1998, just prior to her graduation from UNF, Jen became Director of Sales and later Owner and President of R. Roberts Gallery, a fine and commercial art gallery and art services consultancy in the historic Avondale neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida. This art business drew regional, national, international, celebrity, and art historic shows to its 3,300 s.f. brick and mortar gallery space for the next thirteen years.
The business specialized in original, limited edition, and corporate art, art appraisals for art sold, conservation-grade-only custom framing, art restoration, custom mirrors, product installation, an artist residency, painting classes for clients, corporate, healthcare, and residential art consultation, and site-specific art and frame design. It was among the first-ever American art galleries to offer online, e-commerce art sales and to establish a social media presence. Jen has continued to design websites and/or manage social media platforms for her businesses, those of her friends and business associates, and for organizations such as the Jacksonville History Consortium, University of North Florida Thomas G. Carpenter Library, and the JAA Arts & Culture Program, known formerly as the Jacksonville International Airport Arts Commission.
In order to grow the gallery and neighboring businesses’ marketing and financial opportunities, Jen served as merchant association president for the Historic Shoppes of Avondale from 2002 to 2008. In 2002, she partnered with client and later Jacksonville City Council member and president, Kevin Hyde, to write a City of Jacksonville Town Center Visioning Grant. The effort resulted in the win of $1,000,000 to restore this historically designated business district - one of Jacksonville’s most walkable and beautiful, yet overlooked, public spaces. With a team from the city government and merchant association, she oversaw the construction of this public-private partnership during her tenure as merchant president. In 2006, Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) awarded Jen the Business Owner of the Year award for her volunteerism.
Christina Hope Retrospective curated by JJM Creative for the Jacksonville International Airport's Haskell Gallery, 2019
In 2008, Jen organized with her alma mater and UNF Library Dean, Dr. Shirley Hallblade, the Art in the Library Collection - a museum-quality, conservation framed, original art collection celebrating and showcasing Northeast Florida contemporary artists from the 1940’s to present. Security installed throughout the 199,000 s.f. academic library, this collection now comprises 140 original works created by artists living and working in the region and is viewed by more than 761,000 students, faculty, and community members on an annual basis. For this contribution, Jen was awarded the 2009 Outstanding Alumni of the Year Award from the University of North Florida. The collection is also viewed by patrons globally via the UNF Library’s website and Digital Commons, libguides.unf.edu/artinthelibrary.
At the apex of the recession and due to the longtime success of and subsequent expansion of the company’s corporate art services, Jen closed R. Roberts Gallery’s retail frontage in order to open Jen Jones Art Consulting in 2011. This firm’s sole focus was designing paintings, portraits, prints, sculpture, blown glass, custom framing, mirrors, lighting, and offering art restoration, appraisal services, and other art applications for corporate, government, healthcare, and residential clients throughout the Southeastern United States. Jen continues to assist clients on a consulting basis.
Shown here: (1) Famed 3D Pop Artist Charles Fazzino creating a collage with children from Jacksonville's Northwest side, March 2010. (2) "Renoir & the Impressionists "at our gallery October 2010, shown Pierre August Renoir's great-grandson, Alexandre Renoir, assisting Jen with a gift to the Cathedral Arts Project. (3) Renoir & the Impressionists show poster and collection details. (4) Grandson of Henri Matisse, Pierre Matisse, working with children in our gallery, January 2009. (5) the late Peter Max posing with exhibit security officer just prior to opening the doors at one of his three shows hosted at the gallery between 2008-2011.
In 2013, Jen was asked by NAI Hallmark Partners to help oversee a large, civic, work-live-play, public-private partnership project with the company and the City of Jacksonville. Upon completion of construction and tenancy, she ventured back into her long-time, art consulting career and in 2016 was awarded the contract to manage the Jacksonville Aviation Authority’s (JAA) Arts & Culture Program. She manages this not-for-profit program to date and it remains one of her favorite career endeavors. In 2020, Jen was also asked by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville to direct, as the Interim Public Art Director, the City of Jacksonville's Public Art program beginning January 4, 2021. She became the City of Jacksonville's Director of Public Art (Art in Public Places Program) in June 2021.
Jen is a dedicated community volunteer and currently serves the Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) Arts Task Force (2021), the board of WeaveTales, Inc (2020), and the Jacksonville History Consortium (2017). She served the Guardian Ad Litem of Florida’s First Coast board from 2017-2020, Wolfson Children’s Hospital Patrons of the HeARTs Pediatric Cardiology program from 2009-2020, the UNF Library Dean's Leadership Council from 2008-2019, is the past Visual Arts Chair for the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce (JAXChamber) Board of Directors (2009-2012), and has served the boards and volunteered for many other organizations supporting children, the arts, history, and business development throughout her career.
Jen is currently working toward the completion of her official certification in art appraisal through the American Society of Appraisers, and assisting clients in the Southeast region to whom she has provided contemporary art.
She and her family live in the beautiful oak hammock of Atlantic Beach, Florida with their two cats, many fish, and two dogs, Olive and Loaf.