AURORA, Colo. -- At age 85, Aurora resident Jess DuBois says he’s not ready to stop painting and wants to inspire anyone with a love of art to simply "go for it."
"Sometimes they have hidden talent -- they don’t know that they are gifted and I try to bring this out," he said.
It was after serving his country as a Marine in the Korean War that DuBois discovered a hidden treasure within himself at the Colorado Institute of Art.
Today, his work is featured in galleries in Santa Fe, Taos and art venues around the world.
“I want them to see the people of the past," he said.
DuBois is talking about his breathtaking impressions of life in the American West. He shares memories of meeting key Native American leaders.
“One tribe could have several different chiefs. I used to invite some of them to my shop in Estes Park,” he said.
DuBois also captured images of leaders of the civil rights movement and sketched portraits of the famed Tuskegee Airmen.
"(Many) of them came up and they signed it," he said.
Sketches of jazz greats like Ray Charles and Billie Holiday fill his walls, not drawn from photographs but from memory. DuBois explains, “all those people that are on that board, I met them from time to time either in Chicago or Denver in the Five Points area.”
DuBois even played on stage himself at the great Rossonian Lounge after he learned to play percussion instruments, including the spoons. The seasoned but humble artist says his dream is to encourage others who want to express their vision through art and inspire all of us to find treasures inside that may be hidden.
His words of encouragement are, “never give up, just keep right on going.”
DuBois provides free art supplies to programs that help children in Colorado. If you would like to purchase artwork, visit his website.
This story is part of FOX31’s Hidden History series, which airs each Tuesday night during the 9 p.m. newscast.