The great southern folk artist, Mose Tolliver, died last Monday. Meeting artists and seeing them in their workplace has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my adult life and meeting Mose T was easily the most rewarding and memorable of all my artist experiences.
Bryan, Rory (Bryan's brother) and I made the pilgrimage to Montgomery AL nearly a decade ago and had the privilege of spending time with Mose and his entourage at his modest home. Mose gave us a tour of his room: at the foot of the bed was a paint covered chest where he created his artworks, and near the door stood a decades old refrigerator, secured with a padlock, where he kept his beer. Also, among the many artworks on the wall was a photo of him with the Reagans commemorating his invitation to the White House in the 80's which was a story that he recounted for us, barely decipherable under Mose's thick southern drawl.
I can also remember an enormous woman dressed in a bright green dress sitting in a dark back bedroom whose walls were painted a rich purple. There was also a learning-disabled boy roaming about and a number of Mose's cronies stood (okay sat) watch on the front porch.
Despite his age, he was still a good businessman and gave us a fair price on the works we had eyed. We all left, happy as clams, with our Mose masterpieces tucked under our arms, and headed straight to Country's Barbecue to cap off a perfect afternoon.
I'll miss Mose; it feels as if a part of my life that made me a transplanted Southerner is gone.
P.S. As usual, collectors have come out of the woodwork with Mose T's to sell. Lots are available on ebay (a great place to buy folk art if you can't make it to meet the artist directly) here: