‘The Quest’: Don Moore’s Waterworks show is all about dreams – past and present
By Katie Scarvey
Many people suspect that they’ve had past lives, but not many have created a whole personal mythology ó and body of art ó based on such intuitions, as Don Moore has.
A solo exhibit of Moore’s paintings, “The Quest: Dreams and Coincidental Discoveries,” opens tonight at Waterworks Visual Arts Center.
The reception, which is free and open to all, is from 6 to 8 p.m.
Originally from Alabama, Moore got his master of fine arts degree in 1968 at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. After teaching at Coker College in Hartsville, S.C., he came to Mitchell Community College in Statesville in 1974, the year it went from being a junior college to a community college.
He remained at Mitchell for more than three decades, serving as coordinator of the school’s fine arts program until 2004. He taught drawing, design, painting, ceramics and art history.
Moore moved to Salisbury a few years ago, and since his retirement, he says he’s reinvented himself, devoting much of his time to creating art ó at least three hours a day, seven days a week.
Having such an important solo exhibit fulfills one of Moore’s lifelong goals.
“This was the big dream,” he says.
The paintings in “The Quest” have to do with the “karma of objects from the past,” Moore says.
Through his painting, Moore explores his dreams, his own travels and his family history, as well as the meaningful coincidences and intersection of human lives that seem to pop up in life ó synchronicity, if you will, to use a Jungian concept.
Moore was “kind of a loner” as a child and always felt different, he says. One of his boyhood obsessions was studying an etching of a canal scene his parents had received as a wedding gift.
He’d daydream over it for hours, thinking about what he saw, filling in the blanks with his vivid imagination.
“I was fascinated by that particular scene,” he says, which depicted Brussels, Belgium.
Moore has come to believe that he did, in fact, live in Belgium, near canals, and sold etchings.
His mother had a pen pal from Brussels named Eduard, whom she began to write when she took a French class as a girl. She continued to write him until after she was married and had her first child.In the 1970s, Moore went to Europe and experienced Belgium himself ó and through a strange twist of fate, was able to meet his mother’s pen pal, who had returned from Africa where he had worked as a chemist.
Years later, Moore’s mother gave him one of her most treasured personal items: a jewelry box that Eduard had given her. Moore includes that box in some of his paintings.
“I always suspected she had a crush on him,” Moore says. Eduard and Moore’s mother never met face to face, but they have in Moore’s imagination.
Moore has created a meeting on canvas ó in a work called “Café die Brucke.” The painting has a disjointed, collage-like feel. The faces, for example, seem pasted in, not quite matching their bodies.
The technique seems perfect for what Moore wants to evoke ó a created mythology crafted from fragments of reality, as well as dreams and imaginings.
The color palette of the paintings ó lots of browns and golds ó gives a decidedly “antique” feel, simulating old photographs.
Moore draws imagery for his art from a personal collection of antique photographs and etchings of Northern European scenes, which are combined intuitively in his paintings.
But Moore’s dreams are perhaps the most important component in his work.
He pays attention to them, whether they’re “James Bond” action dreams, “fun” dreams, or dreams that suggest he has something to work on in this life.
Other than painting, that is.
Moore’s work ó particularly pastel nudes ó can also be found at The Green Goat Gallery in Spencer and at galleries in Statesville and Winston-Salem.