They’re just for fun,” says California-based artist Ron Moore referring to his sculptures in the current exhibition at the Viridian Artists Gallery. Aptly titled “Joy,” almost all of the pieces in this show are exuberant, expressive, and entertaining. Moore’s hope is that viewers will be amused and enjoy the work. He refers to them as “joyful discoveries.”
Besides his numerous gallery exhibitions, Moore has also worked from commissions for site specific sculptures but at 68, the artist has hit his stride. He has decided not to accept commissions in order to have more freedom to investigate and experiment. “I want to explore materials and see for myself what they can yield,” he says. Even as a teenager, Moore was interested in finding options and possibilities. A self-taught welder, he works in bronze and steel, creating metal figures destined to alert the viewer to the artist’s expertise and most of all, his sense of the comic and even the absurd in daily life. A life-long Californian, Moore has a BFA from the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, CA, and an MFA from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA.
Moore’s subject matter is predominantly women. Although many of the feminine figures in this show are painted steel, a whimsical sculpture of two smiling young girls seated on a bench is unpainted and consists of shiny steel wires. Unrefined, unrestrained, and uncomplicated, the two figures seem to be having an animated conversation and enjoying themselves on a park bench on a beautiful sunny day.
Another totally unrestrained work is “Joy,” a galvanized steel sculpture of a dancer with her arms reaching for the sky with abandon. She is supported on one leg while the other is extended behind her with a bent knee. No ballet bun for this dancer. Her turquoise hair swirls around her head while her tutu echoes that movement. The sense of speed is palpable.
“Goin Nowhere,” is a non sequitur as this work appears to be taking off from its steel base. Along with a flashy red wheel and two smaller yellow ones, the work, which the artist dubbed a movable machine” conveys a whiff of surrealism. It juxtaposes unrelated objects such as a tiny green horse and a high-flying bright red miniature horse poised on a green pedestal that towers above the red wheel. “The work is meant to be played with and to simply let the feelings within us run free,” says Moore.
Collectively, Moore’s work conveys an amiable world where playful, semi-abstract sculptures —of dancers, horses, and angels— create a fanciful environment, free spirits all, while embellishing a white-walled gallery with high jinks and fun. The artist says it best: “I am trying to bring as much movement and life as I can into my work, to express the feelings that are there.”