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p r e s s l l

It seems Moser was predestined to be an artist. On his maternal side, he’s related to James McNeill Whistler, painter of that most famous icon of motherhood, Arrangement in Grey and Black better known as Whistler's Mother. His father and grandfather operated Carl Moser Studios on 48th St. in New York City, and imported very large, hand-carved wooden statues from Europe. As a small child, Moser would sit in awe at the foot of the figures and draw them. His grandparents encouraged his creativity. They brought the impressionable young boy to all of the important museums, galleries and cultural events in Manhattan. Moser admits his grandmother had a major influence on his life.

From age eight Moser studied privately with artists Phoebe Sonnenberg and Robert Indiana, whom he credits as his early mentors. “They took me under their wings and had the most impact on my artistic development,” Moser said. While still in high school he studied at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. He went on to Tyler School of Fine Art in Philadelphia, Pa., but after only one year was advised not to have any more formal training, as his talent was already so well-developed and his skill so advanced.

So Moser returned to New York in 1971. He found an apartment in SoHo, neighbored with Russian-American sculptress Louise Nevelson, and hung out at Max’s Kansas City with the likes of Andy Warhol.

After about a year of indulging in the underground lifestyle, Moser moved to England to study with John Bellamy at the Croydon College of Art in London. Again he was told to discontinue further studies and “Just paint!” After traveling throughout Europe, the artist eventually returned to New York. He was painting murals on Fifth Ave. and 57th Street, when the director of Dyansen Gallery, offered him an exclusive contract that included $250,000 for advertising and promotion.

His first New York exhibition in 1984 was completely sold out at a preview before its official opening; effectively creating an immediate waiting list for all future works. The dealer’s response to the show’s success was to book another three shows back to back.

The pressure became overwhelming, even with the help of several assistants. Moser began to resent the commercialization of his work. “I had a loft on 20th and Park Ave. I was making lots of money and surrounded by many big celebrities, but I no longer resonated with that style,” Moser said. “I wanted to get away from it and experiment with new ideas.” At that time he was painting works that had a strong mystical element, but were done in a streamlined style labeled as “New Heroicism.”

When Moser’s dealer scheduled a show in Sausilito, California, the artist rebelled. Instead of the expected “New Heroicism” paintings, he shipped out his new figurative, expressionist works. The artist recalled, “The response was all very positive, except for my dealer who was expecting something else.”

Despite his success, Moser lost everything to a fire caused by combustible solvents. He and a model barely escaped with their lives. But like the mythical phoenix, Moser saw this as a rebirth. He left NYC and went on a vision quest in the Southwest. There, Moser discovered some old barn wood, which inspired him to begin making icons. Since the fire had completely destroyed his studio, he made brushes from horse hair and paints from berries, coffee and other natural pigments.

In Los Angeles, Moser was “discovered” by Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records. Gordy and his circle of friends contracted many private commissions. In 1992 Moser was living in South Beach, Florida working as Curator for World Gallery, an affiliate of the Whitney Museum, when Hurricane Andrew hit. He credits his first icon with saving his life. “I didn’t have time to barricade my house, so I invoked the power of St. Michael and left,” he said. “When I returned, my neighbor’s homes had significant damage from the 200 mph winds, but not even one paint brush had been touched in my house. That experience convinced me of the power of icons and inspired me to do more.”

The artist said his grandmother’s death also “created a pivotal effect upon my life and psyche. I began to ask myself what could I do now that would be of service - a way of giving back the multitude of gifts she graced my life with. I focused upon the elderly - producing exhibits, lecturing to them and assisting terminally ill painters in creating their final works of art. That, to me, had invaluable meaning and significance."

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