This weekend, October 9 from 5- 8 p.m., Greg Moon Art will host a reception for his late father, Marvin Moon's (1934-2020) retrospective, "Retro-Moon."
The show will encompass Moon Snr.'s seven-decade career in illustration, fine art, and academia.
Tempo reached out to Greg Moon for a few comments.
Your dad was a prolific artist - can you tell our readers a bit about him?
My father was a bit of a mystic when it came to the arts. It was his belief that the arts were the one thing that was capable of transcending barriers. Language, culture, and in some ways time/space itself was not subject to the vagaries of reality when it came to the arts. He loved teaching and was careful to never kill the joy of experiencing/ creating art in its many different facets. He believed the metaphysical aspect of art was a conduit to shared consciousness. His interest in Jungian theory was a bedrock for what he considered to be the unifying power of the arts. The best part for me was the infectious nature of his enthusiasm for creative pursuits.
When I came into the picture my Dad was an illustrator doing work for the air-force/ freelance in Amarillo, Texas. He had received his BFA from West Texas State University and then done a stint in the Army (the Presidio in San Francisco, California). You can still see many of his decals, postcards, illustrations, license plates, etc. in circulation. My parents decided that a more stable job with more security (and less chance of transfer) was needed. So, with two kids and a wife he went back to school.
He received his MFA at New Mexico Highlands where we all fell even more in love with New Mexico. He was then accepted into the PhD program for Art Education at Penn State (the top institution in the country at that time for Art Ed). There was one catch though ... he had to wait until the following year to enter the program because the three slots that year had been filled by candidates that had come from larger schools. We spent a year in southern California where my Dad taught high school art and discovered his teaching chops. He resonated with the students and took the student-published school paper to heights never achieved before.
The next year we were at Penn State where he excelled in studio courses ... something Art Ed peeps weren't supposed to be good at. I think he relished the egalitarian environment and it was one of the best periods of his life. His dissertation posited that there was a direct correlation between the amount of measurable creativity that a person had and the amount of measurable ESP they had. He graduated and accepted a job at Texas Tech University.
I think that the reality of academia came quickly and he was definitely disillusioned with the politics that came with it. Nevertheless he put his students first and was respected as both an instructor and an artist. He became the editor for the state's Art Ed publication and transformed a rag into a very slick and professional publication. He also received many awards for his work including Art Educator of the year for Texas in 1979. Despite all of these activities he started showing his work in Taos in the early 70s. Many of the studio arts faculty began to take notice because almost no one in the department was showing professionally (much less selling work). He chaired the doctoral committee for art ed for almost twenty years.
Dad had 23 one-man shows and over 170 invitational/ juried shows. His catalogue raisonne' had over 600 pieces and that only included the works he created past 40 years of age. He is represented in museum collections (including the Harwood). He was also a partner in a commercial gallery (Dos Lunas) for 8 years.
The pandemic has changed our virtual landscape; how are you, as an artist, coping?
Living in the boonies of northern New Mexico has actually been an advantage for me. Being somewhat removed from the craziness of the cities we are insulated from the overstimulation existing in most of our society. My space being a working studio has enabled me to kind of keep to my regular life ... whatever that is. We've had dead times, but that's part of the price we have always paid for living in Taos. One anomaly has been that for the first time ever I've consistently sold work off of social media posts. I was used to lots of thumbs up and such, but this was a welcome and much-needed change in that dynamic. The pandemic has caused me to have to weed out some of the artists I represent (which is by far the hardest part of owning an art space), but it also allowed the artists who are doing well with my collector base to have more wall space. It has helped them with their sales during this unwieldy time period and I'm thankful to be able to help with their career trajectory and making car/house payments ... they're all just as impacted as the rest of us.
You have bravely continued to show at your gallery - how has Taos art colony fared these past two years?
It has been really hard to watch less established artists and galleries struggle with our present circumstances. Those with a decent mailing list and a longer track record have done much better, but obviously, this is a hiccup in everyone's git-along. The cancellation of many events, or their switch to virtual exhibits, has taken away the more personal experience that makes places like Taos click. Now, as at any time, there are lots of artists looking for representation. I have felt like the artists I already represent haven't exactly had the best environment to sell their work, so I have concentrated on who I already represent to give them as good a shot at being successful as possible. I'm sure I will take on some new peeps in the future, but I'll wait till I feel like they have a real opportunity to be successful in my space.
What's next for you and your gallery?
Dang, that's a damn good question. Hopefully we can get back to hosting shows and resume putting on our national juried shows. I will, obviously, continue to produce my assorted bodies of work. As we come out of all this my hope is that the galleries/institutions of Taos can work together to produce/promote that next generation of artists (and by the same token collectors) to carry on under that banner. I personally would like to help educate the public, local or tourist, to be more visually literate without making art esoteric or inaccessible. We need to nurture this colony so that it continues the campaign to produce works that aren't just lifeless production-work for tourist consumption (not another Fanta Se). Hopefully, there will always be an influx of fellow weirdos who love something different and genuine ... these are my people.