Longtime local artist Gaard Moses displays some of his watercolors that will be featured in an exhibit, “One Man Show,” at the Woody Creek Art Studio starting Thursday.
WOODY CREEK — Gaard Moses has made a comfortable living as a graphic artist in Aspen for 42 years, hiring out his services to create corporate logos, commercial signs, murals and the like.
Come Thursday he will leave that comfort zone and expose his work in a different way when his exhibition, “One Man Show,” featuring nine water colors and one silk-screen opens at the Woody Creek Art Studio. Instead of finding out what a client wants, then creating it, Moses will put out work he created then “hope somebody pays for it.”
“I have no idea how this stuff is going to sell. If it works, great,” Moses said recently from his cluttered but comfortable home and studio at Lazy Glen Mobile Home Park near Basalt. And if not, he said, “I can always blame the economy.”
An opening reception for “One Man Show” will be held at the Woody Creek Art Studio from 4-7 p.m. Thursday.
This new kind of exposure is both exhilarating and a little nerve-racking for the 64-year-old artist. It's not the sure thing he relies on as a commercial artist. But he is eager to learn if the watercolor painting that has long intrigued him is commercially viable.
Moses worked on most of the watercolors last year in his summer home and studio of 35 years in the Yukon Territory, 80 miles from White Horse, Alaska. The paintings are in the 1920s mountain bungalow-style.
“I was trying to get the look of the 1920s travel posters,” Moses said.
Some of his work features themes from travel posters as well — 1920 America's Cup, the running of the bulls at Pamplona and the Red Jammer classic touring vehicles at Glacier-Waterton Parks.
One piece commemorates the famed 1949 Goethe bicentennial celebration, the event that put modern Aspen on the map, in the style of an 8-cent U.S. postage stamp.
Moses said he has long admired watercolor painting because of the planning required and the precision demanded. A painter essentially has to work “from the back up,” starting with the background then proceeding to the outer layers.
“Water is the most difficult of all mediums,” he said. “You have to have a totally composed idea before the brush hits the paper.”
Moses enjoys the planning as much as the execution. Watercolor is the collection of many parts, he said. You can start with sketches, but once the brush hits the paper, it's a done deal.
“It's the difference between putting out a Thanksgiving dinner and making your kid a cheeseburger,” he said.
Two pieces in the show weren't created at the Yukon studio. Instead, they are rooted in Aspen. One is Moses' 2003 painting of the iconic Crystal Mill. The other is the only silk-screen in the show. It features two classic mountain men with the slogan, “You meet the nicest people in the mountains.”
It's Moses' take on a similar black-and-white poster produced in the late 1960s by the late Fritz Stammberger.
Moses also made frames of wood or steel for all the pieces in his show. Most of the watercolors in the show are fine-art prints using giclee. George Stranahan digitally photographed Moses' watercolors and re-created them using ink-jet printing. Moses was astonished by the result.
“I have to get up close to tell the difference,” he said.