Saving the Best for Last, an exhibition of 24 paintings and six digital pigment prints by the late artist Ed Moses, opened at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art December 15, 2020 through February 6, 2021. Online viewing is available at telluridegallery.com
. This collection of work includes a group of his most recent acrylic paintings, as well as digital prints provided by Patricia Correia Projects. It is the only 2020 solo show of Ed Moses work.
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 nonagenarians paint-covered wheelchair and 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: limitlessly 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 the Ferus Gallery. He spent several years working towards his MFA, finally graduating 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 LAs Cool School, a movement of eccentric artists which defined the nascent LA art scene.
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 and the perfected spontaneity of one of Los Angeles greatest contemporary painters. The exhibition is also exceedingly personal to Telluride Gallery of Fine Art partner Ashley Hayward, for 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 while simultaneously 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.
Friends of Ed Moses special presentation in the new back gallery: Works included by artists Charles Arnoldi, Edith Baumann, Larry Bell, Tony Berlant, James Hayward, Scotty Heywood, John Miller, Andy Moses, Gwynn Murrill, Peter Shelton, and special candid images from Alan Shaffer of Ed and his friends over the years.
These artists were some of Eds closest friends throughout his lifetime. By bringing this selection of works together, we hope to honor Ed and his spirit.
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 dart Moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou, the Museum on Modern Art in New York, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, among many others.