Jon Fontenot has taught in Irving ISD for 23 years, all at Irving High School. While he has had numerous talented students come through his classroom, he is excited to share some of his own artwork with his students and the community.

Fontenot’s Pathways and Influences: Paintings by Jon Fontenot is currently on display at the Dupree Lobby Gallery inside the Irving Arts Center until June 1. It features a collection of 26 paintings of landscapes and fields of color. 

“When you’re in a gallery in Deep Ellum or the Arts District, you don’t want the kids going there, it’s a very adult area,” says Fontenot. “My work has traditionally been exhibited either in Dallas or Fort Worth. To be able to meet in the middle, here in Irving, and to finally be exhibiting in a space where I would feel comfortable encouraging my teenage students to come, means a lot.” 

What makes Fontenot’s art pieces even more unique is how he went about painting them. Prior to starting this collection, Fontenot suffered a double compound fracture due to a broken radius and ulna in his right arm. Rather than letting this set him back, he learned to paint with his left hand, while his right hand healed.

“It forced me into doing works that I normally wouldn’t do because I was just trying to train my left hand,” says Fontenot. “That mindset allowed me to push the idea in my head into fruition”.

Although ultimately, the works on display were all painted with his right hand, the shift in his train of thought made a big difference.

Fontenot studied at Otis College of Art and Design and the University of North Texas, where he would go on to double major in drawing/painting and art education. He thought art education would be a good fallback and focused his time primarily on character design and storyboarding. However, as time went on, he realized he really enjoyed teaching. 

“I fell in love with it,” says Fontenot. “I decided I didn’t want to live in Los Angeles and I didn’t want to design video games.”

Make no mistake about it – Fontenot did not decide to go into teaching because the art life wasn’t for him.

“I hate that nomenclature of ‘those who cannot do, teach.’ I really hate that. Especially with visual arts, or any of the fine arts, it’s important for students to see that you are doing, and that you are not just doing in the classroom, but doing in the professional world,” says Fontenot. “I think that’s one of the big reasons that we push Career and Technical Education (CTE) so much. A lot of our teachers are professionals in their own right. For students to be able to see it in reverse, as often as possible, it is great for their development.”

An exhibition reception for Fontenot’s gallery will be held at the Irving Arts Center on Friday, March 29, from 6 to 8 PM. To learn more about Fontenot and his works, visit

“To finally be able to blend my private career with my public career; it’s a very unique experience,” says Fontenot.

  • Pathways and Influences: Paintings by Jon Fontenot