Our Stories on Stage: Paintings Inspired by the Performing Arts|
While the night's performance prepares to start, an eager crowd rumbles with the excited murmurs of anticipation. “Our Stories on Stage” is a collection of oil paintings created by Joshua Moore that are inspired by the performing arts. Elements of popular theater themes, backstage superstitions, classical music, and traditional clothing make up the paintings in the collection that embody theater, music, and cultural dance. All seven paintings feature people from Michigan and were completed over the course of two years.
Joshua Moore collaborated with his sister, Liz Goodall, to help create the theatrical scenes in his paintings. Goodall is an award-winning costume designer from Meadowbrook Theater, the largest production in Michigan, who specializes in historical clothing. Goodall began her career making elaborate dresses for the Michigan Renaissance festival while pursuing a BA in Theatre from Michigan State University and then an MFA in Costume Design from Wayne State University.
“The idea for this series really came from seeing my sister’s passion for the theater and then seeing the hard work that everyone at her theater does,” Moore said. “She has a true love and passion for her craft. She studies historical fashion for pleasure, dyes her own fabric, and has even gone to a sheep farm to make her own thread. This is the love, good work ethic, and attention to detail you see in good artists. She lives and breathes her work.”
“Theater is very good at capturing the dynamics of human emotion,” Moore said. “It is a direct, human to human, connection. It is pure. Painting, theater, writing, and live music all share a purity in their art forms. By this I mean a very close and raw connection from the artist’s mind to their creation. This is why I felt it was important to spend two years painting elements of the performing arts.”
The painting titled, “Comedy and Tragedy,” shows two stock characters from the Commedia dell'arte wearing clay comedy and tragedy masks. Commedia dell'arte was a type of European theater performance that helped form what we call theater today. It was known for its stock characters of Pierrot, an early version of the clown, and Il Capitano, a military leader. It also helped create improvisation and sketch comedy. Comedy and Tragedy masks have come to symbolize modern theater and originate from Greek theater when actors wore masks to play several roles or enhance the character’s expressions.
The painting titled, “The Curse of Macbeth,” depicts a scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It shows the moment where Macbeth first see the dagger and decides to betray and kill his father. His guilt later consumes him and ultimately brings about his own death. The ambiguous story of Macbeth can be taken as a supernatural themed tale beginning with three witches reciting, “Double, double toil and trouble,” while predicting his fate, or as a moral lesson about the cause and effect of one’s owns actions. The curse of Macbeth is also a well-known superstition in the theater world, about the unfortunate events that seems to plague every theater that attempts to perform the play of Macbeth.
The embroidered flowers in “The Celebration Dancer” are plum blossoms and symbolize strength, as they can blossom in winter.
The lamp that appears in “The Ghost Opera,” is referred to as a “ghost lamp” by stagehands. Its purpose is to light the stage between performances but backstage superstitions tell us that if the light ever burns out, ghosts will haunt the theater.
The dress seen in the painting, "The Costume Designer," uses an antique fabric that Goodall dyed, cut, and sewed into the beautiful form you see before you. “If I'm really lucky I get to see the design renderings before the dress is made,” Moore said of Goodall’s work. “She starts with a sketch and turns it into a beautiful piece of wardrobe. Like some magical character out of a fairytale, she has the power to create anything she thinks of.”
Paul Collins School of Art: A Humanitarian Art Movement
The “Paul Collins School of Art: A Humanitarian Art Movement” exhibit showcases the works of the great American painter, Paul Collins, and the artists he taught and influenced throughout his life. The exhibit at Devos Place is part of ArtPrize 10 and includes work by Paul Collins, Randolph Brown, John McDonald, Hubert Massey, and Joshua Moore.
Led by Grand Rapids' own Paul Collins, this group of realist artists focuses on documenting contemporary culture and telling the story of our history, all while trying to inspire hope with their work. “Paul Collins has created a new art movement,” Moore said. “A new generation of artists that have been inspired by his work, by his efforts to combine social change and civil rights with art. It is a movement of realism but also one of positivity. Our main mission is to show that true strength is compassion. People seem to be hungry for it. It’s been too long coming.”
Paul Collins has a long and successful career that began as a sign painter with his friend and mentor, Randolph Brown. His first major success came after debuting a series of paintings from his time living in Africa. Collins’ next projects would break museum attendance records in the U.S. and bring communities together in Sarajevo and Israel. Collins is best known for his popular Underground Railroad mural and international exhibits portraying the world around us. He has been active in the community as well, helping raise money for schools in Grand Rapids, and helping in numerous charity projects. He was also a friend of Rosa Parks and served on the MLK Center for Nonviolent Social Change board with Coretta King.
“I started my career in the arts as an apprentice for Paul Collins,” Moore said. “I think I will always be his apprentice, studying his work throughout my life. It is an honor to be able to paint with him, side by side, and now have my work hanging on the same wall. I can get really emotional when I stop and think about that but Paul Collins is one of a kind. People really don’t understand all the work he has done, both in the arts, and as an activist. He is a titan of the art world.”
This will be the third time Joshua Moore has been accepted into ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition. “I met Paul Collins after he saw my work in the first ArtPrize. He told me that I reminded him of a young Paul Collins.” In 2016, Joshua Moore's “Copper Ghosts” collection of paintings about the history of copper mining in Michigan was voted into the top 25 2D category during the first week of ArtPrize.
“Art can be powerful; this is what Paul Collins has taught me,” Moore said. “We both try to paint the beauty in humanity. We both are dedicated to creating art for the sake of the people, art that tells a story, and maybe even creates a spark of hope along the way.
Watch an interview about the exhibit on woodtv.com
Copper Ghosts Collection
Top 25 Public Vote, 2D Category, in the World's Largest Art Competition - ArtPrize 2016
Source 1 Source 2
In 2016 I created a series of paintings and a short book inspired by the copper miners of Michigan called, “Copper Ghosts.” Read more about it on my book page.
Football Hall of Fame Mural
Painted by the great Paul Collins and his apprentice, Joshua Moore.
Ths mural honors the football players that initiated the reintegration of football in 1946. Kenny Washington, Marion Motley, Bill Willis, and Woody Strode (left to right).
Pro Footbal Hall of Fame
2121 George Halas Dr. NW
Canton, Ohio 44708
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mural
Painted by the great Paul Collins and his apprentice, Joshua Moore.
This mural was unveiled on Martin Luther King Day, January 20, 2014. at the MLK Fair Housing Exhibit Center, forty-eight years to the day that Martin Luther King Jr. moved into Chicago’s North Lawndale housing complex to bring national attention to the slum conditions faced because of housing inequality in America’s inner cities. Paul Collins previously served on the board of directors of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. While on the board, Collins was asked by Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, to design the Martin Luther King Peace Prize Medal. Collins remembers when Coretta Scott King told him to never let the community forget the struggle, and to never forget Martin’s dream. Mural still on display
MLK Fair Housing Exhibit Center
1558 South Hamlin, Chicago, Illinois.