Wholly Moses - Alta Vista hosts Will Moses reception Saturday
With autumn in full swing, Alta Vista Gallery in Valle Crucis
is hosting a reception Saturday, Oct. 24, to showcase the folk art of Will Moses.
The great-grandson of legendary folk artist Grandma Moses, Will Moses continues the family tradition, and his colorful, oftentimes humorous, paintings delight young and old in a style that's, put simply, wholly Moses.
Moses' art is collected the world over, even finding its way into the White House and Smithsonian Institute. It's also in Valle Crucis.
"We sell more Moses art than any other artist we represent," Alta Vista owner Maria Santomasso-Hyde said. "I think that may be because his folk art takes you back to old days when things were not so rushed - a peaceful place, which is what so many people come to the High Country for."
People may find peace in Moses' paintings, along with myriad other emotions and themes.
"I try to tell a story with paint," said Moses, who's based in Eagle Bridge, N.Y. "I think a successful painting is one people can look at and, if they truly look at it, be able to decipher the story I'm trying to tell - or, in some cases, make up their own story."
Admirers and collectors alike often tell Moses they find something new at each glance. Interestingly enough, he said, children are frequently drawn to his work.
"I suppose it's because a lot of the references in the paintings are things they understand at that stage of life," he said. "Children really do look at these paintings and seem to find something they like there."
His work may hearken back to yesteryear, but his themes resonate with everyday life and people's stories. "That is the nature of folk art ... trying to create art that is representational of all that," he said.
One example is "Girls' Night Out," a Halloween-themed painting depicting witches dancing about a bubbling cauldron, as playful ghosts weave through the air. Moses overheard some female employees at his office discussing their girls' night out. He took the term and ran with it.
"I just took a different take on it, used the witches as girls, and I joke that it was a reference to them - they seem to appreciate it," Moses said.
Moses started painting at the age of 4. His grandfather, Forrest Moses, painted, and young Will followed suit.
"I grew up painting with him as a little kid, then a teenager, then a younger man," he said. "I didn't appreciate it at the time, but it was sort of like an apprenticeship."
Throughout the years, Moses developed his own distinctive style under an ever-growing tent of folk art.
"Some of it's pretty raw and basic, and some of it's a little more refined and detailed," he said. "Some people who practice folk art seem to feel that you should always be on that raw edge and so forth. I never felt that way. I always felt you should strive to improve and become better and develop a style that's your own."
Moses takes his own advice, and it's evident in his catalogue of work. Though his artwork shares similarities with that of his great-grandmother, Moses doesn't feel like he's in her shadow.
"(Grandma Moses) does affect it in many ways, and I'd be fairly naive and arrogant if I didn't acknowledge it," he said, "but at the end of the day, most people probably haven't bought paintings because I was Grandma Moses' great-grandson."
The same can be said for his books. Moses has written and illustrated numerous children's books, some original stories, others based on fairy tales or timeless classics, but all featuring original art. Examples include "The Night Before Christmas," "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Raining Cats & Dogs."
He's currently working on an illustrated version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," a poem he was surprised to learn is based on a true story. He expects it to be released in bookstores next fall.
But much of his artwork is already available online ( http://www.willmoses.com) and in various galleries, including Alta Vista. Saturday's reception, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., will include seasonal treats, like hot cider and pumpkin bread, which Santomasso-Hyde said should complement the thematic art.
Alta Vista Gallery is located at 2389 Broadstone Road in historic Valle Crucis, between the Mast Farm Inn and Mast General Store Annex. For more information, call (828) 963-5247 or visit http://www.altavistagallery.com.