Few folk artists capture the spirit of days long past better than Will Moses, who inherited the gentle style of his famous predecessor, but polishes and refines his work with the hand of a trained artist. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself being tugged into a Will Moses painting. Think of his paintings as interactive art.
Will Moses, great-grandson of Grandma Moses, paints colorful and vivid, whimsical turn-of-the-century views of Americana. His country scenes are depicted with amazing detail and more charm than any one painting should hold.
For many devotees, it was love at first sight. It’s hard to discern the exact nature of his appeal. Is it the rich colors? The depth and broad vistas of the towns he paints? The tiny figures at work and play? Or is it the serenity he captures in the midst of activity? Moses’ primitive folk art absorbs the viewer, subtly drawing the outsider into the scene.
Each painting is a visit into the past. One can almost hear the murmur of voices harmonize with the creak of the water wheel above the clopping of horse-hooves and the jingling of sleigh bells. It is almost possible to hear the cows and sheep grazing in the distance, and the distant ringing of the church bell. The effect is magical.
Moses paints scenes of rural life: diligent, industrious and physical, yet peaceful and appreciative. It’s disappointing to think there is no actual real estate agent to call and ask if that house up on the hill with the cows is for sale. Scenes are usually presented as if the observer is standing atop a hill overlooking the bucolic setting sharing the moment as an unexpected guest.
A snapshot of a simpler time, this everyday life is painted in rich, full-bodied colors. It takes several viewings to embrace all of the detail – the children hiding behind haystacks, birds in flights, sheep in the pastures, and men carrying wood near the barn.
Often, there is a full moon casting a delicate glow on the scene below. These aren’t ‘at a glance’ works of art. Each piece is to be pondered and relished. The paintings call to mind the works of Renoir and Rockwell. Moses effortlessly combines the rich, sensuous hues of a Renoir café scene or pensive moment in the garden bathed in light or softened by shadows, with the humor, compassion and detail of Rockwell’s Americana. Renoir romanticized life, as does Moses. Rockwell was an exquisite artist who dealt with realism, unlike Moses’portrayals, although they capture the same spirit and fortitude.
If pressed to choose one painting that embodies Moses’ spirit and precision, consider “Thanksgiving Snows.” This delightful scene visits a village preparing for winter at the end of a good harvest. The fruits and vegetables have been canned, the wood has been cut, split and stacked, and the hay has been cut and dried.
Of course the homes were drafty, with smoky fires within, but pay no mind, for the scene is romantically inviting as the village anticipates the holiday season ahead. Autumn is a favorite season for many and the painting nicely illustrates this quiet, introspective time with shades of browns and reds, muted yellows and soft grays against a pale blue sky.
The black leafless trees seem to quiver in the chill air, while distant pine trees provide a deep gray-green to the barren land. Villagers are observed bundled up and bustling about, as turkeys fatten in their pens and wisps of smoke escape from chimneys. Children down by the river enjoy the last few moments of daylight, while the first snow of the season dusts the landscape.
Thanksgiving season, much like this time in history, is less harried and greedy as the season in December. Simple pleasures and the bounty of one’s labor are the essentials to be enjoyed.
Will Moses paintings do more than please the eye. They please the soul and engage the mind.
Will Moses’s Mt. Nebo Gallery is located at Grandma Moses Road, Eagle Bridge, NY 12057, 518-686-4334 http://www.willmoses.com