Sunday, January 2, 2011

William K. Moore - The One And Only

Heaven is Hell - 17" x 21" - Xixtograph by W.K. Moore

About four years ago I came across an artist who amazed, disturbed, challenged, and touched me -- all at the same time. Reverberations through the blogosphere led me to the Cool Kids On The Block, and the leader of the pack, identified via one link as "William Moore, the crazy." I had to click.

William K. Moore
was living then in Los Angeles and traveling to Colombia to paint the colorful denizens of the Bogota barrio, as well as local phenomena you don't see in the travel brochures. As the Bogota Painter, he took the urban guerilla approach, mixing with a crowd that is wary of American gringos. Fluency in Spanish, a heart full of compassion, an eye for the unusual, and loads of street smarts allowed him to chronicle a segment of society most would ignore, let alone immortalize.

Que bellezA - 18" x 15" - watercolor

It is essential to scour the Moore blog archives, because there is just way too much work to discuss here. Start at the beginning and work forward to best appreciate the evolution of themes and methods. You'll find sensitive and beautifully-painted images of people such as the tamale woman, homeless vagabonds, prostitutes of the Candelaria district, and a number of self-portraits that could only be described as bizarre. (I'm proud to own Chink Chank Chunk) Sometimes I wasn't sure if they were self-portraits, as the photos on his profile were just as outrageous. I kept thinking, "Who is this guy???"

It turned out he is a tall, dashing native Chicagoan who studied at the Art Institute and continued to hone his talents in drawing, figure painting, portraiture, and plein air, etc. across several mediums. All of this prowess combines with a prodigious imagination to form one of the most diverse portfolios you'll ever see. And he's prolific. The entire range of of the human condition leaps from the canvas, and instantly impresses as the work of one who has forged a unique style, unflinching, unapologetic, and in your face. As the artist forewarns, "Get ready to have your pants pulled down and receive the visual spanking you deserve." Yes!


Cotton Candy - 19" x 14" - watercolor acrylic

2008 saw the artist return to the Windy City to live, and marks the time where new design elements and working modes emerge, many pieces utilizing cubist environments with distorted perspectives. One thing that I find very stimulating in these works is the visual buzz created by disjointed edges, practically vibrating before your eyes. The concepts become more volatile, many in a horrifyingly spectacular way. Bill Moore is not afraid to explore the darker, grittier recesses. I have been rendered breathless by the supreme boldness of what this artist is putting out there, and wishing I had half the guts. There is often a humor that softens the blow, Tee Hee, but this is not your aunt's parlor art, and was never meant to be.

SpinxSpanx - 30" x 24" - silk screen

Accompanying most of the entries are mind-bending, often equally-disturbing narratives. I go back to read some of them, my favorite an ode to the hapless Gingerbread Man. Do the stories connect to the paintings? I would never presume to know for sure, and that's part of the adventure.

During 2009-2010, silk screen and mono screen is added to the arsenal of techniques, followed by the artist's own Zeit Screen and Xixtograph processes. Chicago provides a new cast of characters in street preachers, sidewalk loiterers, and fascinating faces masterfully depicted with heartbreaking poignancy.

Foster Exit - 7" x 18" - acrylic

Don't miss Bill's other blog, B Side Paintings, office annex to the main gallery!

It is impossible to adequately pay tribute here to an artist so original, broad, and daring. Bill Moore is one of the few I look to as a true innovator, a courageous force in contemporary art.

Chicago Painter William K. Moore

William Moore - B Side Paintings

Silk Screen Boiler Room

WKMoore Artbreak

18 comments:

RH Carpenter said...

Nick, you've featured one of my faves and yes, his work is disturbingly fresh and wonderful or wonderfully fresh and disturbing. I, too, can never decide whether the text actually goes with the visuals but don't care. I keep returning for Moore.

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Nick, Excellent article and compelling work. I found the directness and honesty exciting. Plus it's visually stunning! Thanks!

Nick said...

Rhonda - excellent post :) David Lynch has got nothin' on this guy!

Peggy - check out this self-portrait just posted on his blog. Masterful painting!
http://williamkmoore.blogspot.com/2011/01/fan-fair.html

Carlos León said...

Very good this post about this great artist. Thanks for sharing.

W. K. Moore said...

Nicholas - big thanks for your tip o' the hat in my direction. You whipped up a thumbnail composite that gives the unawares viewer the real low-down on yours truly. It's friends like you that make it worthwhile to be a painter.. plus it's a gas to paint whatever interests me at the moment. I'm still looking forward to our joint venture involving leaf blowers, paint guns and heavy machinery. Cheers!

Nancy Lee said...

Beautifully written piece, Nick. Just as you delight me with your art I'm amazed by your wonderful literary abilities. Not to mention the gift of homage to your fellow artists and friends. Bill Moore is frighteningly interesting and baffling when I try to make sense of some of his work. Perhaps I shouldn't try. And I'm in awe of his output.

Nick said...

Carlos - si si,an artist of your caliber knows what he's talking about!

Bill - if you show up with a leaf blower, I'm going to need a wood chipper to keep it fair.
You're just about the baddest of the bad, and of all the artists I know, probably the most likely to catch the eye of a major curator or gallery. Keep preaching the good sermon, you're more relevant than ever in this braindead Palin-Boehner culture of mediocrity. (brings a tear to the eye, doesn't it!)

Nancy - I learned to write from my parents, one of whom has the poetry (Mom), and one who has the classical St. John's/Harvard style of sober, legal austerity (Pop). I didn't learn a bit of it in school. I also subscribe to Twain's rule re adjectives: when in doubt, leave it out. But that's very difficult to do when writing about an iconoclast like Bill Moore!

Jean Burman said...

I'm looking forward to the leaf blowers paint guns and heavy machinery... [what a great mental picture that paints LOL and with the addition of your wood chipper Nick] anything might be possible. Will no doubt whip things up in the art world and about time too. Art needs innovators and you two meet the criteria most imperfectly. Confronting work. I like it! Good report btw Nick. Well said :-)

F.M.Marrouch said...

Hola Nick, muchas gracias por hacerme descubrir este gran artista, me impresiona su dominio técnico, como su ceratividad.
Saludos.

Annaquarel.les said...

Hi Nick. Congratulations on your excellent article.I came across William's paintings thanks to your blog and have followed his work since then. The characters he depicts as well as his creative approach have always attracted my attention.I find his work smartly provocative and interestingly disturbing. Thank you for sharing.

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Nick, I went and checked out the latest self-portrait. It is masterful and a reminder of what watercolor/watermedia can be. I was struck by how he combines the realistic, expressive and symbolic ways of drawing.

David Burge said...

William's unique output has been a part of my more exotic visual diet for a few years. I never tire of it, always surprising and thougth provoking. Just keeps getting better.

Nick said...

Jean - leaf blowers and heavy equipment were Bill's idea, must give credit where it's due. If the art world was a motorcycle gang, Bill would be the one on the hardtail with suicide clutch, riding with no hands. And no helmet!

FM - thank you for the visit. I suggest you test out Bill's Spanish over on his blog, let's see just how fluent he really is!

Anna - as I wrote elsewhere recently, perusing the art galleries of the internet is often like sampling teas - safe, pleasant, and non-threatening. But when you're in the mood for a double espresso with a shot of gunpowder??? That's where Bill Moore comes in.

Dake - another hero of mine endorses the work of Sir Real!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is interesting stuff. Glad I stopped by. Thanks for posting this Nick - this guy is refreshing!

Mike D.

cardesin said...

Hi Nick
If how right you are!
a great contemporary artist, as a few brave and risky, I have to say thanks for many things, but now closer to his work and me personally for quite some time descubrirmelo.
Each work of art overdose.
See you soon Nick!

Nick said...

Mike D - studying WKM is like taking out the '57 for a Texas tune-up...windows down, and pedal to the metal.

Juan - like you, it doesn't get any gutsier. There's little time anymore for the internet art scene, so I go right for the high octane stuff. Once in a while I get my eyebrows singed off, but it hurts so good! jejeje

jane minter said...

hi nick...was curious to find william's work when you made a ref to his on "work square 1" he's great artist .....incredible sensitivity....look foward to seeing your joint adventure

Nick said...

Jane - we've applied for the permits, but zoning regulations and OSHA view us as a danger to the community! lol