Ed Moses: Saving the Best for Last

PRESS RELEASE

Ed Moses: Saving the Best for Last
Dec 15, 2020 – Feb 6, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TELLURIDE GALLERY OF FINE ART 
is pleased to present

Ed Moses
Saving The Best For Last
December 15, 2020 - February 6, 2021

“I’ve known Ed all my life, but the last years of his were for me the most memorable. We sat together on several occasions and talked for hours about art, life, love, fear, truth, and the things that remain when all else falls away. I see all these truths still in the works that remain and am reminded of my friend and teacher with full-hearted appreciation and gratitude.”

-Ashley Hayward, owner

TELLURIDE, COLO – Saving The Best For Last, an exhibition of 24 paintings and six digital pigment prints by the late artist Ed Moses, will be on view at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art from December 15, 2020 to February 6, 2021. This collection of work includes some of his last acrylic paintings, as well as digital prints provided by Patricia Correia Projects.

Even in his 9th decade, Southern California native Ed Moses spent most days in his Venice studio. In one of his final interviews, he told Los Angeles Times reporter Deborah Vankin, “You caught me on a good day!” Pointing to freshly painted canvases drying in the sun, he explained, “These are all self-portraits. These paintings have history, action - scars and blemishes, scratches and imperfections. These are me.” She described the nonagenarian’s paint-covered wheelchair, worn Birkenstocks, and the way he zipped across the courtyard that joined the studio to his house.These parallel accounts give us a portrait of the artist Ed Moses in his later days: endlessly energetic, yet deeply reflective.

Having served as a surgical technician in WWII, Moses came to painting after washing out of a pre-med program at Long Beach City College. In 1949, he enrolled at UCLA where he met Walter Hopps of Ferus Gallery. He spent several years working towards his MFA which he completed in 1959. Though often at odds with the faculty, he impressed Hopps to such a degree as to have his thesis exhibition staged at Ferus Gallery. He was in good company there, showing alongside Al Bengston, Llyn Foulkes, John Altoon, Kenneth Price, and Wallace Berman. It cemented his place in LA’s “Cool School,” a movement of eccentric male artists which defined the nascent LA art scene.

Moses was never content in adhering to a single style or movement. He coined the nickname “the mutator,” pointing to his ever-expanding and developing body of work. Shunning terms like “creative” or “artist,” he preferred to be described simply as a “painter.” Indeed, he later went so far as to say, “I don’t make paintings, I find paintings,” speaking to the importance of process in his evolution. “There’s some vague thing I’m shooting for, but I don’t know exactly how it’s going to come about. So I try one thing and then another, and in this process, once in a while, something falls in the cracks.” In this way, he likened his process to the work of a shaman: interpreting the unknown through symbols, objects, and mark making. In 1978, he converted to Buddhism, which pushed his experimentation even further, strengthening his relationship with chance and experimentation, and lessening his reliance on control and restraint.

This show is the culmination of Moses’ six decade career as a mark maker. What immediately comes to mind when viewing the work is his expertise; the honed intuition, the perfected spontaneity of one of Los Angeles' greatest contemporary painters. The exhibition is also exceedingly personal to gallery owner Ashley Hayward to whom Ed was a dear family friend. She reflects, “These late paintings are the crescendo of a lifetime of painting. The freedom he discovered vibrantly shines through. He was fearlessly creating until the end.” His energy, optimism, and emotional range radiate from each composition.

Though confined to a wheelchair in his later days, Moses continued to create very physical work. In a recent interview, he reflected on how “the rational mind constantly wants to be in charge. The other parts want to fly.” In WHIR #18, the pink brushstrokes follow the edges of the canvas mockingly, as if taunting a captor. Meanwhile, a creamy rectangular center portrays the indefatigable optimism of the space within. In Zip #1, a retaliatory yellow streaks across the primarily dark canvas as if rolling through on wheels. These works read as freedom within confinement, undeniably autobiographical yet eminently relatable. The brush stroke is cast as the hero, its unfettered physicality teasing the canvas edge, dashing to and fro in a celebration of energy and momentum, not unlike the latter-day artist himself, whisking around his studio, paintings drying in the sun, self admittedly “full of vinegar.”

Ed Moses joined the art faculty at UC Irvine in 1968, taught at UCLA, the Skowhegan School of Painting, Cal State Bakersfield, and Cal State Long Beach. In 1976, he was granted a fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1980, he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1991, he won a place in the Whitney Biennial. The Museum of Contemporary Art honored him with a major retrospective of drawings and paintings in 1996. In addition to his lengthy affiliation with the Ferus Gallery, Moses enjoyed a 15 year working relationship with Peter Goulds at L.A. Louver. He exhibited with galleries worldwide, and his work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Musée National d’art Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among many others.

The exhibition reception will be held on December 15, 2020 in a socially distanced capacity. Visitors are welcomed into the gallery eight at a time as per current city guidelines. Masks are required, and we ask that guests keep a six-foot distance while inside the gallery. You can also view the exhibition online at: https://www.telluridegallery.com/exhibition/218/