Ferndale - Jack Mays the award winning Ferndale artist and editorial cartoonist passed away today. He died around 2 Friday afternoon surrounded by family and friends at St. Joseph Hospital.
He was one of the original group of artists who settled in Ferndale back in the late 60’s early 70’s. Not long after, the art world began to take notice. Hobart Brown’s gallery sprang up and so did Jack’s along with 30 or 40 other artists. Rents were cheap. In fact, you could get a storefront with utilities paid for around $30.00 a month. As Jack would say, “You couldn’t afford to leave!” People were buying art by the arm loads in those days. Gone are the multiple times of 5 or $6,000 commissions. He bemoaned the changing times when News Channel 3 interviewed him for this last year’s Kinetic Sculpture Race. “People just don’t buy art like they used to,” he said. Jack was the instigator of what has turned into the Kinetic Grand Championship. He threw the challenge to Hobart Brown and in 1969 the race was on with Jack driving his homemade tank! The race has continued non stop ever since.
Back in December of 2004, he was diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer. Doctors gave him three months to live. He would have none of that and defied the odds another 10-years; inspiring others to fight the good fight.
He leaves a legacy of great art and a human history with his pencil drawings of his beloved and adopted home,Ferndale. For many years, he sat at corners of the town, painting storefronts, and daily events. His sharp eye never missed a detail.
That huge collection of colored pencil drawings, rarely seen or shown, was given to seed a foundation called, The Amazing Grace Foundation. It is dedicated to assisting Ferndale families who have to travel outside of the area for their children’s medical attention. Gone at the age of 76. Rest in peace Jack Mays.