Harbor Style Harbor Style Oct 2017 : Page 92
Artist Portrait at of the k r Wo 92 | H ARBOR STYLE
Portrait Of The Artist At Work
Two words have helped mold Scott Joseph Moore’s life in art.
One is “hope.” That seems logical enough. Moore is an artist, and if an artist doesn’t have hope, he doesn’t have passion. And if an artist doesn’t have passion, he doesn’t have art.
“It’s been sort of a background theme throughout my life,” the Port Charlotte sculptor said. “Hope, in a lot of ways, is what all my work is about these days. My fine-art vision is based in hope, positive thought. That’s where I’m going with my work.”
The other is “no.” Moore is 53 years old and has been hearing that word from other people all his life. It’s a word he rejects. Which is logical because he’s an artist, and if an artist entertains the word no, he gives up his creativity. And if an artist doesn’t have creativity, he doesn’t have art.
“Early on, I started getting the negative feedback from the world,” said Moore, who won his first art contest as a 6-year-old. “All the starving artist stories. All the ‘you can’t make it until you die. You’re only recognized after you die’ – all that stuff. My own dad. He was a great father. He loved me. With good intentions, he’d try to tell me, ‘Don’t do this with your life. Don’t go after this life, because there’s too much competition, and you’ll end up not being able to make money at it.’
“It was sort of a challenge to me.”
It works that way.
The path has not been an easy one. It has offered Moore ample opportunity to prove the naysayers right. There was a string of dead-end jobs, a time when he had a studio but nothing to put in it, a divorce after more than 20 years of marriage.
But Moore has made it this far: three rented units in a warehouse in Murdock that serve as his art factory, a website, restorations and ghosting for others, a galvanizing community project, creating and selling his works – mostly bronze – for himself.
He is a working artist. He’s making a living at it.
He has been in business for close to 10 years after paying his dues as a laborer and getting a degree from Ringling College relatively late in life in a field unrelated to what he’s doing now. He gained recognition in the last two years for his work in the Superheroes on Parade community sculpture campaigns that benefit Southeastern Guide Dogs.
And now he hopes to parlay the momentum those campaigns created into an art enterprise that would make Andy Warhol blush.
It’s funny. Moore sees himself as something of a surrealist. He notes the dreamlike quality of his work. And yet the artist he quotes in a collage mounted in a conference room is Warhol. Say what you will about Warhol, he was a commercial success.
That’s so, Moore said, because “Moore Art Expressions is a commercial art factory very much like Warhol’s.”
Commercial success for his business, Moore Art Expressions, would suit Moore just fine. Depending on the time of year, it can take six people to run his operation, including himself, his son Chris, and his partner of five years, Robin Warsaw.
“Right about now I’m really starting to focus on a body of work,” said Moore, who leans on Warsaw as his office manager and collaborates with his son.
Moore was referring to a body of work beyond the about 100 Labrador-sized and 35 puppy-sized dogs he molded with his hands for Southeastern Guide Dogs fundraising campaigns in Sarasota, Tampa and St. Petersburg the last two years.
“Without him, there would be no campaign,” said Fran Marinaro, director of philanthropy for Southeastern, which provides working dogs to the visually impaired and veterans without charge.
Basically, he sells them to Southeastern Guide Dogs as white dogs for $1,500; the puppies are $1,000. Southeastern Guide Dogs recruits sponsors at $5,000. Moore delivers a white dog to an artist, who paints and decorates the canine according to the artist’s whim or the sponsor’s specifications.
“They’re pretty elaborate castings,” Moore said. “It takes us two days, basically, to make up a big dog.”
The dogs are bright, colorful, whimsical, sporting superhero capes, flags, medals and all manner of adornment. They appear ready to jump into flight
“Almost every artist that I’ve delivered a dog to and picked up from has told me they’re something special,” Moore said. “They don’t want to let go of a dog when they’re done painting it.”
Moore’s job doesn’t stop with the creation of the basic dogs. He picks up the dog after the artist is finished. He takes the dogs to the unveilings. He nurtures them along each step in the process, from creation to installation. In fact, he has painted five of the dogs himself.
“He is an integral part of the campaign,” Marinaro said. “He puts his heart and soul into it.”
In turn, the dogs have done their part for Moore. The campaigns have allowed Moore to “show his talent, to meet a lot of people,” Marinaro said. “The dogs have raised awareness of him as a person, a sculptor and a businessman.”
Moore doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge what the Superheroes on Parade program has done for him. “It’s been a big, wonderful project that’s really put us on the map as far as what we can produce,” he said. “Working with Southeastern Guide Dogs has been such a rewarding experience for me and the business.”
In becoming so interwoven with the project, Moore found his business had become the “glue in the community. We were in this effort with the guide dogs, and the painting and the going around and meeting the artists. We were one of the cohesive mechanisms in this whole campaign that made it work.”
“These dogs make people so happy,” Warsaw said. “In a time when things are hard and bad and lots of trouble in the world, you can’t imagine the response. It’s like adults acting like little kids, hugging the dogs.”
“We try to keep the kids from riding the dogs,” Moore laughed. “We can’t.”
Don’t get him wrong. Moore loves giving to the community, an expression that brings its own rewards. But he is, first and foremost, an artist. Art is his gift. He speaks to the world through it. It is his raison d’être.
He just doesn’t look like an artist. There’s no long hair, no Bohemian beard, no Dali mustache, no wild-eyed look of a man who has been shipwrecked once or twice. He dresses in T-shirts, jeans and work boots.
Moore looks like he just finished up the swing shift at the factory, which is something he could have done at any one of several points in his life. His preferred head gear is a welder’s mask.
“I did a lot of skilled-labor jobs,” he said. “I worked as a Teamster up North for nine years in a chemical manufacturing plant. I worked at a shipyard for four years, worked in concrete, construction for nine, 10 years.”
Those were side jobs, waiting rooms. For Moore, it’s always been about art.
Born in Virginia, he grew up in a little section of Scituate, R.I., called the Hope Village Historic District. The area has seen industrial activity since the 18th century and has surviving industrial and residential buildings from the early 19th century. At one time, the village center was a mill built in 1844 by Brown & Ives, operators of numerous Rhode Island textile mills.
When Moore was there, it was still a company town.
“As far back as I can remember, back to when I was 3 years old, I’ve been an artist,” Moore said. “I remember I won my first contest at like 6 years old. I won a safety poster contest the local police department was putting on in Hope.”
His father, Timothy, was a marine draftsman who worked in a shipyard. The word “no” came loudest from his mouth. Had Moore wanted to be a musician, his dad would have told him to take piano lessons and be sure to get an education so he could get a job.
“I don’t hold it against my dad,” Moore recalled, “but I do remember it as being one of those things, like, here I am 10, 11 years old, and I thought, ‘Well, if I can’t be an artist, then I don’t really want to be anything.’ You know what I mean? Since then, it’s been a strong will to continue this push to become a professional artist and actually make a living at it.”
It wasn’t like he went to his father with paint brush and palette in hand, all artsy-fartsy, right away. The kid had gumption, the kid had juice. He liked his art in three dimensions.
“I started with ceramics,” Moore said. “I went right into sculpture. I like to work with my hands. I like playing in the dirt. I like getting my hands dirty. I like getting right into the work. Ceramics was a really great medium for me because I could just get down and dirty and into the work, and not have to be concerned with, ‘Oh, keep the area clean. Clean up the paint brushes.’ It was more like getting all dirty and covered in stuff, and then I’d clean up at the end of the project.”
The only time he was not hands-on was during his tenure at Ringling College. He was 36 when he started pursuing a degree in computer animation. After he earned it in 2000, he knew it wasn’t for him. Too hands-off.
“He always worked from the heart,” said Cyndi Flanagan, a Ringling administrator who has known Moore for years.
Flanagan, Ringling’s associate director of career services, remembers Moore as an artist who was “always focused, detail-oriented. He’s very introverted, but he still shares himself. He’s giving. He weaves his life experiences into his art.”
Moore’s pieces range from the personal to the metaphoric. Some are arresting in their beauty. Some appeal to curiosity. Some provoke thought. All are unique. There are no lawn jockeys in Moore’s collection.
He’s done a bronze “self-portrait” of a monkey with a bullhorn astride a lion.
“I’m the lion and the monkey,” he said.
Moore has crafted a statement piece of a man with a bong in one hand, a pint in the other, and a small version of himself popping from one eye.
His “Providentia” bronze is mesmerizing in its intricacies. He wants to spread them around the world. They’re $25,000 on his website.
A bronze pug looks up at you in anticipation. How much is that pug on the work table?
From his vantage point, Moore sees himself as “more of a surrealist. I don’t like to put labels on my art, because I’m not necessarily a surrealist in an exact way. I tend to more go the way of dreams. My work is dreamlike and centered on dreams, but it’s about real things in life.“The concepts behind my work relate to the human condition. They’re all centered on positive intentions and positive thoughts.”
On his website, mooreartexpressions.com, he says he believes we all create our own realities based on our focus.
“I have this idea that we as human beings on the planet are capable of doing better things in the world than what we’re doing,” he said. “What I want to focus the rest of my career on is…how we could turn it around and make it work in our favor rather than having all this bad stuff happening. Things going backward with the environment, with human relations around the world, our politics. All that could be changed if only we would focus on the right things.”
Warsaw said Moore is an artist with a “very strong mind and visual perceptions. Very often in the night he gets visions, and redirects or, ‘I have to do this. I have to create this.’ He just has that purpose.
“I met him at another artist’s event. He was talking about the Providentia and what he hopes to accomplish. And I thought, ‘Man, this guy’s got something going. He’s interesting.’”
Moore has his hands going in the daytime. At night, it’s his mind.
“Sometimes, when we wake up at night, it’s like, ‘Oh, you’re awake too?’,” Warsaw said. “We’ll start talking about ‘what if.’ And where our minds go is so much fun.”
Warsaw says that working with the dogs taught her that “Scott has a knack of capturing the spirit in his sculptures. It could be a turtle. It could be a person. It could be a dog. There’s something magical and alluring about what he touches in art. It’s pretty cool.”
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