Meet Artist Michael Moore ’60
Michael Moore is a nomadic artist, writer, and photographer who finds inspiration in the rugged, often desolate landscapes of the west. “When I was growing up in La Canada, I roamed the dusty hills and washes every chance I got, usually barefoot. We also took family car camping trips. Through these I became involved with George Anderson, the local photographer who in his own work was an acolyte of Ansel Adams. He and I would adventure up the east side of the Sierra on long weekends, camping out of his station wagon, lugging photographic equipment into the field and up desert peaks, which gave me a taste and affinity for dry mountains, deserts and places of solitude. My own work comes out of a continuation of those early experiences, revisited through a lifetime of what might be termed ‘extreme’ car camping, where I’ve explored a lot of northern Nevada, southwestern Idaho, and southeastern Oregon. Those landscapes, whether stumbled around in or glimpsed out of the window at seventy miles an hour, have informed the imagery of my paintings for most of fifty years.”
As a result of those experiences in nature, Michael started creating art at a young age. Fortunately, he found a cohort of fellow artists right away at Webb. “For some perhaps perverse reason I gravitated to pen and ink even before I came to Webb. To win friends and amuse people I would make typically adolescent scatological cartoons but also landscapes, often incorporating imaginary derelict mine structures influenced by trips to the desert. Later at Webb surfer-themed sketches came into play – waves, woodies and coastal landscapes.”
“When Lachlan MacDonald, my sophomore English teacher, started the literary magazine called Sage as an extracurricular project, I became art editor for a time and contributed drawings all three years I was there. Hod Gray, Jon Carroll, Chip Porter, Terry White and others were involved in that and were definitely aiders and abettors of our little un-ironic beatnik scene.”
For young people looking to dip their toes in the world of art Michael recommends: “just try something, anything; give it a chance and see how it goes. But then if you don’t feel compelled to do it – don’t. A life in art can be endlessly rewarding, and without end. It’s like running a small manufacturing concern; you have to procure materials, transform them into something, market it and keep track every step of the way for the benefit of your understanding as well as ever-suspicious authorities. Each step requires its own talent, imagination and expertise.”
Except for a few shows that had to be cancelled, life for Michael during the pandemic hasn’t changed dramatically. “I have a daily practice of walking, reading and basically showing up in the studio. My work has always been a help in navigating life and has continued to provide focus and a semblance of normalcy. Having something familiar to do and being able to continue a routine has definitely helped keep my mind off the deep unease of these months – the unsettling political situation, the fires, and the climate weirdness – although nothing can drown any of it out completely. These are strange and troubling times.”
Michael and his wife, Linda Fleming, who is a sculptor of some note, have built several studios and houses together but artistically the most notable was a show they did in Santa Fe several years ago called “Making Places”. You can find more about Michael and his work on his blog, “Hits and Missives” or visit one of these websites: http://mikesmooreptgs.com, http://lindaflemingsculpture.com, and http://makingplacesflemingmoore.com/ . Michael has also published a book entitled, “Auto Biographies [and Every House I’ve Ever Lived In, from Memory],” which you can find in Fawcett Library.