Community remembers local artist

Published 9:59 am Saturday, November 20, 2021

By KAREN THIEL
For The Washington Daily News

Washington resident Gale Champion had to take a moment to gather her emotions before she could begin describing the experience of being a student of famed watercolorist Jeffrey Jakub, who died last week after a long battle with brain cancer.
“His paintings were so beautiful,” Champion said of the first time she saw his work, during a visit to Beaufort County Community College. That’s where Jakub’s multi-canvas representations of the college’s continuing education curriculum were on display – and are still featured. She became one of his students shortly after that visit.
“He was a very detailed artist, and I like to do detail work. That’s what caught my attention,” said Champion, a member of the collective that runs the River Walk Gallery on Main Street. Champion’s paintings have been done with watercolor for about 40 years. She’s has been a student of Jakub for the last 20 years, since shortly after that visit to Beaufort County Community College.
“He was a wonderful teacher and friend. He would demonstrate what to do before you did it in class, step by step.”
Champion said Jakub was so enthusiastic about sharing his craft that he visited her mountain home in Blowing Rock just for the opportunity to teach members of the High Country Water Media Society.
Jakub moved to Beaufort County after a distinguished career that endeared him to owners and fans of the fashion industry. He was creative director for Clothes Magazine, freelanced for the likes of Haggar, Panama Jack, Needell’s Shoes and Hart Schaffner and Marx, as well as illustrating for Simplicity Patterns and Vogue Magazine.Champion said that background made for one of her favorite memories of the artist, who “liked to dress wonderfully well wherever he went, even while painting.” She added that several of the places he visited were made for someone who dressed with panache, including the local version of “Dancing With The Stars” for which he happily volunteered to be one of the contestants.
Beaufort County resident Carol Mann, co-owner of the Lemonade Gallery and another student of Jakub, said his unique presentation was enhanced by “not just his artistic ability…it was also his fabulous sense of humor. He was quite a character,” Mann said, adding that Jakub was her mentor. “He gave me my start in watercolors. I went to take lessons so I could illustrate my cookbook, which led to selling some of my artwork. Now I own an art gallery,” she said.
“He was quite a figure around here, real vibrant, said Courtney Bailey, the new executive director of Arts of the Pamlico and the Historic Turnage Theatre. She said Jakub was to have been honored at AOP’s 57th Fine Arts Show,” but he was already too ill. Instead, there will be a reception, exhibition, and sale of his works in January. All funds from that event will go to Jakub’s family which, according to his obituary, has asked that anyone intending to send flowers or other gifts should make a donation to the Turnage.