Ed Moses - The Venice Legacy, Santa Monica Daily Press, May 12, 2016


On Tuesday, I paid homage to “Moses at 90.” That’s Ed Moses, an early member of the West Coast “Cool School” whose work first was shown in 1958 at the legendary Ferus Gallery in Venice. After 60 years of prolific “mark-making” he’s still busy working to this day at his Venice studio compound.

Moses is being honored at the William Turner Gallery with an expansive career survey, including 1950s drawings, rose and patterned graphite drawings from the 1960s, through his signature abstract cross-hatch paintings of the 1990s and on to the some of the most exquisitely experimental late stage works, including patterned cutout panels, funhouse-style mirrors and “crackle” paintings.

It’s a truly beautiful show, one requiring not just the Turner Gallery but the entire former Santa Monica Museum of Art, and it’s more than deserving of the massive space. My heart melts a little more every time I see the “crackle” works – the surfaces breaking open, reminiscent of deserts and earthquakes and to me, a profound commentary on aging.

A quote from Moses explains his philosophy and process: “My thought is that the artist functions in a tribal context and he is the shaman … The shamans were the interpreters of the unknown, they reacted to the unknown with symbols and objects and wall painting. And that’s where it all came from. That’s where I came from, but when you’re a young man, you don’t know that.”

I think he’s more than proven what he does know and what he’s still searching for through the metaphysical power of painting.