At 86, Local Artist Ed Moses Is At The Top Of His Game:

Artist Ed Moses has been a fixture in Venice for more than 50 years.
Artist Ed Moses has been a fixture in Venice for more than 50 years.

Hurrying along Abbot Kinney Boulevard to meet the legendary artist Ed Moses for dinner, I caught a glimpse of him casually strolling down the street. As I drew closer, I couldn’t help but notice people stopping to say hi, some ever so briefly while others lingered to chat. Ed took a moment with each of his admirers before entering the restaurant.

For more than 50 years, Venice has been home to the abstract painter. He is a fixture in Venice… a treasure… an icon.

At 86, Moses is at the top of his game. As prolific as ever, this renowned artist recently enjoyed a successful opening at Patrick Painter at Bergamot Station. His latest exhibition “The Crackle Paintings” is a testament to his unequivocal legacy. His new series is unabashedly bold…subtle, yet explosive.

“It’s a bit like watching Moses part the Red Sea,” says gallerist Patrick Painter. “This guy is making these incredibly fresh paintings… truly maintaining his position as America’s greatest abstract painter.”

Entering Hal’s Bar and Grill he is immediately recognized by the hostess who escorts us to our table. The art of Ed Moses is currently gracing the walls above us.

Several customers acknowledge him with a nod, and our waitress comes by to warmly greet this charming gent.

Co-owner Don Novack stops by our table, and they chat briefly about the new work due to be installed at Hal’s.

When asked if his work has changed over the years Ed replies, “I never change… I mutate.”

“In other words, one series of paintings comes from the proceeding series of paintings. And that goes on and on and on,” he says. “So I don’t work within the scope of having an idea and then executing the idea. I just muck about.”

Moses has two assistants that stretch and prepare six to eight canvases a day.

“I find something that’s interesting by mucking about… not knowing what I am doing… not knowing where I am going and having a strange remembrance of things past,” he says.

He reminisces back to 1968 when he asked himself the big question, “What are you doing Ed?” He continues, “That’s when I realized I wanted to leave evidence that I have existed.”

Originally known for his involvement in the prestigious Ferus Gallery, Ed talks about his past exhibitions.

When asked if he has ever in his long career been afraid to try something new, he responds, “I have said this before and I will say it again, I’m not afraid of anything; I’m terrified of everything. So terror is my constant companion.”

Enjoying the work of Picasso and Pollack, Moses insists that he is not trying to tell a story with his paintings. He muses, “I make most of my discoveries by falling on my head.”

After we finally part ways, I run into Don Novack who tells me that just last week an art tour of MOCA patrons happened to be having lunch at Hal’s when Ed Moses came in for lunch. “They were so excited,” he laughs. “You would have thought God had walked through the door!”

“Crackle Paintings” is on view through Dec. 5 at Patrick Painter, which is located at 2525 Michigan Ave, B2 (Bergamot Station) in Santa Monica.

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