In 1958, Katz was twenty. In his twenties, apart from textile designs he produced for a living, he created very few art works. Those he did produce attempted to comment critically, directly, and creatively on the character of the social-economic system.
“Going Out of Business” (watercolor, 1958?) attempted to express the despair of Americans for whom the American Dream had failed, and the psychological depression associated with economic depression.
“The Power Elite” (oil, 1958?) visualized a politician, military officer, and businessman, representing what sociologist C. Wright Mills, in a popular book, called “The Power Elite.”
“Almighty Dollar,” an oil painting, 3’ x 6’, was probably created in 1963, after Katz heard that Andy Warhol was painting pictures of money. In Katz’s work, however, George Washington’s image is a death’s head, and the drips and painterly technique convey an ominous tone and a critique of “The United States of America” during its war in Vietnam, and a critique of the linked institutions that Dwight D. Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex”.
In the winter of 1965, at the Judson Memorial Church theater on Washington Square south, Jonathan designed the sets for the production of an early play by Bertolt Brecht, “Lesson in Understanding,” directed by George Wojtasik. The New York Post’s theater critic, Jerry Tallmer, reserved his principal for “the set and collage” by Jonathan Katz, the actor Eric Nord, and the translation by Gerhard Nelhaus.