Posts Tagged ‘Ed Moses artwork’
Sometimes I wish for the moon and the stars: I wish for the rapt attention of a new audience for contemporary art. Like the saying goes, be careful what you wish for—it might come true. On Monday morning I met a group of journalists at the gallery, and for pretty much the whole day, I had the pleasure of their company. All seven arts journalists were awarded fellowships for the ninth USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program. They showed up in a small white bus, guided by Sasha Anawalt, Director of the program, and Jeff Weinstein, Deputy Director.
The program for the day started with their visit to the gallery and a look at our Craig Kauffman show. I gave our guests a bit of background on Craig, and author Hunter Drohojowska-Philp filled in the history of the 1960s in the L. A. art scene. She’s got all kinds of anecdotes on the tip of her tongue these days, as her soon-to-be-published book is nearing completion. The group seemed to be delighted to see the Kauffman show, and one, Alissa Walker, has already posted her impressions on her blog and flickr.
I haven’t had such an attentive group come to the gallery—ever! There’s nothing like a group of journalists taking notes, snapping pictures—and really listening. We moved on to the studios of Larry Bell and Ed Moses. The writers were treated to some extraordinary moments. I swear that the Larry Bell visit was a classic: an explanation of his intentions, a denial of his intelligence, his pointed and clear overview of methods and technology, and his sound-enhanced and humorous anecdotes (my favorite was the story about Marcel Duchamp knocking at his studio door in 1963).
Ed Moses was unusually touching and subdued–yet showed them work that is vibrant and alive with color. It’s just so powerful to see someone at 84 years old, and having gone through a life-threatening period in the hospital, making inventive new work. The group gathered and then grew silent when he talked.
So I got what I have been wishing for: a day that makes my occupation worthwhile—meaningful work and an audience that wants to understand it.
I’m a proud member of KCRW, the Santa Monica National Public Radio station. I’ve spent many an hour in my car, hanging on every word of Morning Edition during a national crisis. I’ve become addicted to This American Life, and I’ve often marveled at the cogent summation of a Supreme Court decision, as told by Nina Totenberg. Who can top the interview ability of Terry Gross? As the NPR site states: “Though Fresh Air has been categorized as a “talk show,” it hardly fits the mold. Its 1994 Peabody Award citation credits Fresh Air with “probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights.” Then, of course there is always the role of KCRW as tastemaker for new music. That keeps me young.
Last year, for professional support, we sponsored a few underwriting “spots” and let people know about our exhibit of Robert Graham’s work. It was the most meaningful advertising support that we’ve ever made. But for personal excitement, I’ve hardly had more thrills than today, when Ed Moses was interviewed on KCRW.
Veteran station manager Ruth Seymour took a special interest in Moses’ exhibit at the gallery, and came to see it last Saturday. Ms. Seymour and KCRW art critic Edward Goldman talked with Moses today for a full half hour. She conducted a superb interview with Ed, and the painter extended his reputation as an outspoken legend. Because of the station’s generous use of technology, we can offer it to you here.
I was stuck in traffic this morning, a common experience in Los Angeles. When faced with an endless line of tail lights, I usually just listen to NPR or select a CD. Traffic is tough, so I’ve developed a golden rule for the L.A freeways: stay in your lane, and don’t hit the car in front of you. So, there I was—stranded, with my attention focused on the bumper of the car ahead—and I happened to scan the personalized license plate: WKNDOG.
It’s a game we frequently play with personalized plates: What on earth does that stand for? Weekend Dog? Weakend Dog? Walkin’ the Dog? I looked for more clues—and perhaps a dog in the front seat. But, alas, I was stuck behind the car (obeying my number one traffic rule) and couldn’t identify the driver. Then, suddenly, I noticed the license plate frame, and there was my clue, because the frame read: “I’m not over the hill; I’m just on the back nine.”
Not over the hill, just walking the dog and on the back nine. What a great attitude, I thought. Longevity has been on my mind lately because of my rapidly advancing age. As I consider the issues of productivity and stagnation, I’m looking for moments of inspiration. The personalized license plate was certainly one—a pleasant reminder of walking a dog combined with a simple sports analogy.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve been fortunate—this gallery has presented the work of legendary artists such as Beatrice Wood, who continued to work in the studio until she was 105. I have witnessed the incredible burst of energy and power in the monumental late works of Peter Voulkos. And this month, I have received some more inspiration, in the form of the paintings of Ed Moses.
Ed has produced what several viewers have said could be the work of a young man—perhaps in his twenties. For a painter who is so well known for large-scale abstract work, to venture into the territory of decorative patterning and figuration is risky. What 83-year old do you know who would take this much risk? His productivity is astounding, with a vitality and inventiveness that few can match—at any age. It seems to me that he has a key to longevity.
I am fascinated by the way that artists talk about their work. Almost two years ago, painter Ed Moses was interviewed by Kristine McKenna at the gallery. She asked him, “What did you do in these paintings that you’ve never done before?”
Ed Moses: Nothing. I don’t believe in change—I believe in mutation, and every painting I make comes out of the painting that preceded it. There’s one thing in my work that never mutates, however, and that’s the fact that I don’t conceive of imagery when I work. I never think pictorially—what I do is work physically. I like pushing and shoving paint around, but I’m not trying to express anything and I don’t want to be creative—that’s a word I’ve always hated. What I want to do is hang out with the materials until something appears that I had nothing to do with.
As for this new work, I’ve always liked watercolors and always wanted to make them big, and I’ve been painting wet into wet for the last twenty years. Truthfully, I’m baffled as to why people are responding to these paintings so much more enthusiastically than they have to other work I’ve made using the same technique. I guess every dog has his day, even a dirty dog. All my friends have had their day, but I never have, so now is my moment. I don’t think it has anything to do with the work, though. I think it’s just my turn.
Kristine: How do you know when a painting is finished?
Ed Moses: It lights up.