FRAN MOYER: JOY TO LIFE
An interview with bobby markels, author of the “Mendocino Malady” series, “How to Be A Human Bean” and “Popper”, on the opening of Fran Moyer’s “Myths” at Bay Gallery, 45110 Main Street, Mendocino, CA 95460, which opened on November 11, 1988.
I don’t know anything about ART. I just know what I like. Doncha hate people who say things like that? But it’s true. And I don’t want to learn anything about ART either; I’ve got so much stuff whizzing around in my head already that the last thing I need is more.
But I do know what I like: Fran Moyer – a great lady who has lived in Mendocino some twenty years or more, has a lovely house, a charming garden, is a good cook and best of all – I LOVE HER STUFF. Her work makes me laugh. It makes me happy. It makes me feel good. Her stuff is “ART” with a sense of humor.
I went over to her house the other day; her house was filled to overflowing with new paintings for a show opening at Bay Gallery November 11th.
“Fran”, I said, “This stuff is marvelous. Can anything this hilarious be real art?”
“I think so”, she said. “I have a gold medal I got (for a pretty gloomy piece of sculpture, actually) that has a Latin quote on it: Gaudium Vitae Dare – ‘to give joy to life’. This strikes me more and more as being what art is about. It doesn’t mean that everything should be cute and nice and pretty, of course. After all there are all sorts of great Crucifixions by the masters, and Goya’s stuff and Picasso’s Guernica and King Lear and Macbeth and Hamlet. But in the sense we’re talking about here they certainly give joy to life. And nobody, I think, can quarrel that they are not Art. Maybe art is about enlarging and enriching life, but the Latin does sound classier, you’ll admit.”
As she talked, I kept staring around at her latest work: marvelous renditions of Aphrodite, Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the underworld and is ready to devour intruders (imagine Fran’s handling of this one), Leda and the Bug, the Three Hesperides, daughters of the night (and they sure looked like daughters of the night to me), Artemis and Actaeon, Daphne and Apollo, Helen and Paris (like you wouldn’t believe) and so on.
“This current collection came about,” Fran said, “when I got to thinking about some of the Greek myths. It seemed like it might be great fun to have a whack at making them graphic. The way I had been working (on the cats, mermaids, etc.) was drawing in ink, mostly with a twig or some slightly unmanageable stick. I liked the resistance and the struggle that ensued. Somewhere Paul Klee writes about taking ‘a line for a little walk.’ So the pictures got to be sort of excursions in line and watercolor.”
I forgot to mention there were some acrylics of the country around here, I knew one of the scenes of McKerricher Park, and here’s what Fran had to say about that. “I got to looking at the woods here where I live and noticing the wild variety of grens and shapes and light patterns and began to have an urge to paint in acrylics [the myths were in ink and watercolor] which are more ‘painterly’ I guess you’d say. Anyway, you can splash them around and paint in and paint out and build up color on color (and wreck your clothes if you”re not careful). Also, I was hanging out at McKerricher Park when I could and I was struck by those wonderful sweeping views and gulls and blackbirds, etc., and I wanted to get some of that swell stuff down if I could.”
Later, when I was talking to noted artist Hilda Pertha, she told me, “Yes, Fran’s new show is very exciting. The theme, colors, lore and composition all point up her wonderful sense of humor. The technique is tightened up from her other work and her understanding of the myths is very profound. The richness of color is something very special.”
So, it’s a good show. Go see it. Fran Moyer has won many awards (Oakland Art museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, S.F. Festival Award of Merit, San Diego Museum and various others), and has exhibited widely locally and nationally. She is a great prize and we should honor her.
Fran Moyer, “Myths”, Bay Gallery, 560 Main St., Mendocino, CA, 95460, opening, November 11, 1988.