Doug Jaques: In Memoriam

Remembering the great Austin muralist and teacher

Doug Jaques and friend
Doug Jaques and friend

Doug Jaques, the gifted painter who created the signature underwater scene for the interior of Esther's Follies – twice! – as well as murals adorning the walls of Liberty Lunch, Vreeland Graphics, the Austin Community College Eastview Campus, the building on 24th at Guadalupe, and many others, has died. He was 67.

Jaques was among the artists who left their mark on Austin in the Seventies, using pretty much any blank wall as a canvas for some fantastical image. Like so many of the local art crowd at that time – Jim Franklin, Kerry Awn, Rene Aguiano, Greg Jones, Raul Valdez – Jaques felt no constraints to be "realistic," although his draughtsmanship was so impeccable that he was capable of extraordinarily lifelike images. Coupled with a mastery of trompe l'oeil effects, he could persuade you that a fish was indeed floating above a Downtown building or that you were sitting in an octopus' garden, as with his murals for Esther's. Follies co-founder Shannon Sedwick recalls Jaques taking about three months to complete the 60-by-20-foot undersea mural along the east wall of the original Esther's Pool, with its sea creatures swimming lazily around brightly colored coral and the wreckage of a jet fighter. The work was lost to a fire that consumed the building in 1983, but Jaques re-created it for the Follies' new home at Sixth and Red River in 1990.

That was the year Jaques joined the faculty of Austin Community College, and he continued to teach there for more than 20 years. In that time, he passed along his love of murals to many students, and they assisted him in the creation of several new outstanding works, such as the stunning and surrealistic Le Bonheur de Vivre (The Joy of Life), which stands across the street from the beloved Varsity mural by Carlos Lowry. That 1998 mural by Jaques – which he called "a slice of life in Austin" – was one of the artworks that earned him a pair of Austin Chronicle Best of Austin awards in the Nineties. He was truly among the best, not just for those years but for all years.

Jaques is survived by his wife Linda, son Aaron, granddaughter Lucy, and brother Robert. Services will be held Saturday, April 13, 2pm, at All Saints' Episcopal Church, 209 W. 27th. In Lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the All Saints' Episcopal Church Rector's Discretionary Fund.

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Doug Jaques, Austin visual art, Esther's Follies, Shannon Sedwick, Liberty Lunch

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