Mose Tolliver, Folk Artist
"I'm not interested in art. I just want to paint my pictures." —Mose T.
I first saw his paintings at the Yard Dog Gallery in Austin sometime in the '90s. Weird stuff. Birds and snakes and fish and fruit, titles like Watermelon...My 3rd, Ray Charles Dancers, Wide Dinosaur Bird and Bow Legged Sall.
I was touring with the Silos at the time and we were hanging out with Randy, who owns and operates Yard Dog, along with his wife. He told us we should pay Mose a visit if we were passing through Birmingham. It so happens we were, and we did. We knocked on the screen door until a soft voice invited us in. Mose was kicking it on a bed, painting away. He had his walker within arm's reach. At the foot of his bed was a paint-spattered box full of his materials. We hung out for a while; he gave us a tour of his shotgun shack, then continued painting. And just kind of smiled and made us feel welcome.
When the drummer asked why he painted a certain painting over and over he justshrugged. "Uh ... People seem to like 'em." Tom Freund , who was playing bass with the Silos, held up various pieces and asked, "How much?" Mose was consistent and to the point: Each time he would say, "Fiddy."
The place was crammed to the ceiling with paintings of twisted animals, odd moose ladies and paintings of women riding bicycles. There was a painted refrigerator. A painted guitar. And other things that were painted. I guess people would drag these things in for him to paint. More than a little odd, kind of erotic even. Totally his own thing and never less than strange.
Mose painted right up until he had a stroke in 2005. He died in 2006. They had a funeral procession a mile long.
I always get a good feeling when I look at these paintings. They're the reason Stephie shuts the curtains at night. She doesn't like the light hitting the painting in the morning. Would hate to see them fade. She's good like that.
Video after the jump.