Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Flowers of Paradise

This painting, entitled "Flowers of Paradise," is by Mose Tolliver, a self-taught American folk artist who painted in the genre known as Outsider Art. I bought it from Mose at his home in Montgomery, Alabama, around 1990. You can read more about Mose by clicking here.

Using latex house paint, Mose painted on scraps of plywood and the back of paneling. He finished his paintings by nailing on a pop-top from a beer can for a hanger.

My painting originally had his classic "Mose T" signature in the lower left corner, but it has faded with time, so I don't know that I could ever prove that it's an original Mose T. Although most of his paintings are signed in black like the one in this picture, this one was signed with some kind of purple marker, which is probably why it faded.

I learned about Mose from my friend Kathy, who had seen some of his paintings hanging in a friend's home. Shortly after that, she and her husband were in a folk art gallery in New York and remarked that some of the paintings looked like something Mose T might have done. Someone at the gallery overheard her and quickly told her that they did not have any Mose T paintings at the moment but that they could get her one. She asked how much and was told they ran about $1,000 to $1,500.

When Kathy returned to Birmingham, she called her friend and asked how much she had paid for her Mose T's. When the friend told her she had paid around $35 or $40 for each of hers, Kathy decided that we needed to make a trip to Montgomery real soon. So accompanied by her husband Billy, off we went.

I returned home with two Mose T's. I think I paid about $45 for "Flowers of Paradise." I also bought a Mose T watermelon, which were very popular with collectors, for about $15. It sits on a shelf in one of my bookcases. On later trips to Montgomery, I purchased several more watermelon paintings for gifts and got a Mose T self-portrait for my sister.

Unfortunately, Mose Tolliver died in 2006, but his paintings continue to be popular with collectors.

Now that you've learned about Mose T, you might want to jump over to Grits and Glamour to see what other bloggers have on their walls.


Mary Ellen (megardengal) said...

I have never heard of Mose T- thank you for the history!


Barb @ GritsandGlamour said...

That was a very enjoyable post. I have never heard of Mose, but its cool how you have collected several of his pieces. I like the watermelon one a lot. Thanks so much for joining this week's WOYWW. I hope you are able to join in each week. Blessings, Barb

Mar Mar said...

Well I love my Mose T self-portrait you gave me. I also love the watermelon Mose T you gave me. My only regret is that I never got a Mose T Black Santa. I always wanted one, and I never made it to Montgomery to go to his house. I asked for that for Christmas every year, but I guess you never made it back to Montgomery either to get me one. :-(

pammiejo said...

That's my kind of art and my kind of a story to go with the art. Thanks for stopping by my blog today too. PAM

mbkatc230 said...

Oh I just love this. I have heard of Mose T and am sorry to hear that he passed. Don't you love it when you find someone that you just love to collect? Great post. Kathy

Kim Chalfant said...

Thanks for sharing. I had never heard of Mose T. Not my cup of tea, but I can still appreciate the work.

Taterhole said...

I visited Mose Tolliver in the late '90s and enjoyed an afternoon on his porch with him. Sadly, it turns out that his daughter and others were painting a lot of his latter works.