February 14 – ongoing, 2020
(extended due to COVID-19)
Roll Up Project is pleased to present works by John Moore, as selected by Mildred Howard. Moore’s body of work spans five decades, but his paintings and sculptures are rarely displayed in museum or gallery settings. This installation aims to recreate the experience of his home installations.
Stepping into Moore’s home in Oakland is a revelation. Thoughtfully composed walls pair personal artworks, portraits of musicians, and mixed media works by fellow artists with trinkets and found objects. Books, CDs, and plants fill the rooms, forming a space designed for inspiration and comfort.
Moore’s reverence for music and musicians is broadcast throughout his work. Names like James Brown and Richard Penniman (also known as Little Richard) are featured in paintings, as well as lyrics from beloved songs, such as Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” But moreover, Moore’s work captures the spirit of the music through color, composition, and applied mixed media objects. In combination with other artworks on the walls of his home, they create a conversation about American culture and its many facets. We are privy to a visual mixtape of favorite songs and artists.
The works on display in the Roll Up Project windows are distillations of Moore’s lived experience. The three untitled mixed media assemblages were created from mementos collected during trips to Italy and the Caribbean. Coins, charms, paper money, beads, bottlecaps, and more are affixed to painted blocks of wood topped in nails, held tightly together as permanent memories.
In the paintings Wow, No, Happy, and Can’t See the Forest for the Trees, Moore’s words are both encouraging and admonishing. Depending on their perspective, viewers may take phrases like “It’s fun time, make yourself be happy” and “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” as personal challenges. But they may also be Moore’s reflections on overheard conversations, or comments directed to him. Moore’s work encourages this open and self-reflective dialogue, creating a lasting connection between the artist and his audience.
About the Artist
Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1938, John Moore moved to Oakland at the age of three and has lived in North Oakland since 1957. A prolific artist who eschews the gallery system, Moore rarely shows his work publicly. In 2019, his work was featured in a group show along with the artist Oliver Jackson at Creativity Explored in San Francisco. He was included in a group exhibition at Fiber Works Center for the Textile Arts in the late 1970s alongside contemporaries Raymond Holbert, Arthur Monroe, E.J. Montgomery, and Raymond Saunders; his work also appeared in a 2006 exhibition at Santa Rosa Junior College focusing on the collection of artist Mildred Howard, who curated both of the aforementioned shows. A monograph of his work with an essay by Nick Stone was published in 2018. Moore lives and works in Oakland, CA.
Learn more about his work here.