DOROTHY NORRIS MOSES, ARTIST (1931-2021)
July 22, 2021 - By Joy Reed Belt
I was introduced to Dorothy Moses in 2000. I had just opened my first Art Gallery at 3003 Paseo Drive. It was a rather small space sandwiched between Claude Anderson’s Studio Blu and a much larger studio space where Mike Larson was creating his well known “Ballerina Mural” for the rotunda of the State Capitol. Dorothy was not the first or only person John brought to the Gallery, but the memory of our initial meeting was impactful and has stayed with me all these years. I knew she was an artist before John made the introduction. Dorothy’s presence was artful. With her bobbed black hair, simply cut yet quietly dramatic clothes, and the thoughtfully curated accessories she signaled ART. I immediately realized I was meeting a very unique person. As her critical and knowing eyes scanned the exhibition I had recently installed, I tried to engage her in a conversation, but I could tell she wanted to concentrate on the art. Finally she turned and announced that she was an artist. She stated that art was her therapy and that it had saved her life. .In the year 2000, artists didn’t carry portfolios with them on their mobile phones, so we scheduled a time when she could show me some of her work. Later, I found her work to be remarkable. Not only was it dramatic and stylistically unique, I found out that it was and continued to be sensitive and autobiographical in nature.
Dorothy Moses Works Owned by JRB
Born in Thomas, Oklahoma in 1931 to the town pharmacist and a school teacher, Dorothy’s parents encouraged her to become a teacher. Dorothy attended Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Oklahoma. In an article written about her in “Southwest Art,” in 1989, Dorothy recalled that it was not until her father’s death that she began to study art. “He simply would not have allowed it,” she said. Dorothy began taking art lessons when she was 34 years old and was the mother of three children as a way of dealing with her “dissolving marriage.” Every week she would drive 60 miles to Rocky, Oklahoma to study with the late Evelyn Diffendaffer, who was known for painting traditional subjects such as landscapes and flowers. Dorothy also began taking workshops that were sponsored by the Oklahoma Watercolor Society. It was in one of those workshops, conducted by Robert Kaupelis, who for over three decades was a distinguished professor of art at New York University and had recently published his famous book, “Learning to Draw, A Creative Approach,” that Dorothy discovered the keys to unlocking her own creativity and began boldly painting using her own unique voice. It was from Kaupelis that she learned to draw with her undisciplined left hand and paint with her right hand.
"I Love Being Here With You" by Dorothy Moses
Throughout her career, Dorothy experimented. Facial features and human shapes were exaggerated by the use of color. Proportions were skewed and every painting telegraphed its own personality. She once said that “painting a painting is like the birth of a child. Some births are easy, some difficult. They just seem to come out of me. They often take me by surprise.” In addition to producing paintings on canvas, Dorothy worked in other mediums. She created ceramics, made painted pillows, and utilized all kinds of surfaces. Dorothy also began teaching workshops at colleges and art centers throughout the state. Several years ago I happened to walk into one of her classes at City Arts, which has become Oklahoma Contemporary, when it was located at the FairGrounds. There were several well known artists in her class and the air was electric. Fascinated, I asked if I could sit in on the class for the next hour or so. She immediately told me “no, you would be a distraction,” but that I could enroll for her next class. Although Dorothy has suffered from declining health for the last several years, I always felt that from time to time she could still enjoy her own private creative orbit. But now, as strange as it feels, she is gone. While I don’t profess to know much about eternity, I certainly hope there are a lot of art supplies provided.
"Handsome Man" by Dorothy Moses
"Bobby, Betsy, John & Jill Party" by Dorothy Moses
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