100 Colorado Creatives: Paul Moschell
Paul Moschell in his studio.
#16: Paul Moschell
Artist Paul Moschell doubles as a sweet-hearted animal-lover and an eccentric-about-town who, when he's not painting whimsical characters on paper and matchboxes or building disturbing pieces out of doll parts and other objects (some of them sharp and pointy), shoots video selfies of himself dancing with his teacup chihuahua, Tootie Lynn. His latest project, a series of assemblage hats and headpieces, seems more at home in a gallery than in a hat shop, as does the tattooed and muscular Moschell himself. What makes the world spin for this walking, talking artwork-in-process? Read his answers to the 100CC questionnaire for a different spin on the arts.
See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Lonnie Hanzon
Paul Moschell, matchbox paintings of Annie Lennox.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Jim Henson. He enchanted both children and adults alike. There is no doubt in my mind that he was snatched away from us far too soon. When I was a child, his film The Dark Crystal had a cherished impact on me that is still with me today. His work was so innocent and so beautiful and yet, on rare occasions, he could master darker projects without tarnishing that innocence. I often wonder what treasures he might be sharing with us today. As we age and change, our work follows. It would be fascinating to see how his visions and interpretations of them have changed as he aged. Jim Henson didn't remake classics, he created them. Across the board, his legacy is brilliance.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Recently, I have been charmed by the fresh voices of a handful of girls from the United Kingdom putting out exceptional music. However, as you have asked me to select one individual, for the moment I will select Lianne La Havas in response to your question. Her debut album is exceptional, and her voice and style are exquisite. Music has always been an essential part of my creative process, especially a beautiful female vocal. Lianne is a terrific example of the music that stimulates my creativity. I really enjoy painting to her music and vocals.
Paul Moschell, Monette La L'Hiver, Snow Queens series.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
But honestly, I am not certain that I need to see anything die. Although I have no photography training, I would love to see the return of more darkroom, as opposed to digital photography. Many of my friends create amazing digital images that I appreciate and admire. I have also seen untrained, novice teenagers create truly captivating images with nothing more than an iPhone and a 99-cent app. Nonetheless, many of my lifelong photographic artist friends have demonstrated amazing wizardry in the darkroom. Their mastery of exposure time, paper selection and finishing (such as a silver gelatin print) is truly astonishing. My appreciation of darkroom processing is likely due to my work with watercolors, which includes delicately controlling the water and pigment and selecting the paper in a fashion similar to the darkroom process. So I guess my response is more me advocating for a revival rather than seeing anything dead and buried. At least, let's not forget the rich history and grassroots processes of "bygone" art forms.
What's your day job?
I have not had a "real" day job for over a decade. I just concentrate on my work. Before such a leisurely existence, I worked for five years with high-risk homeless inner-city youth in Indianapolis and before that as a grade-school art teacher.
Paul Moschell, Don't Touch My Mother Fucking Hair, wall assemblage.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
The full details of what I imagine are far too extensive to report, but in summary, I'd turn half of my studio into an elaborate mechanical puppet theater. I would create and paint the façade, build the puppets from vintage European doll parts and have an original soundtrack composed. I'd also have a variety of little mechanical birds as background singers. Performances would be twice a week for small crowds, and I would serve mint juleps, vodka Collinses and veggie corn dogs. A guy can dream!
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I have been in Denver for just over six years and I truly love it here. Within the first week or two of moving to Denver I knew I was "home." That said, I really had a very difficult time finding a place to build my nest in the Denver arts community. After a couple years in Denver, I rented a storefront studio space on Santa Fe in the arts district, where I worked and showed my art for two years. As everyone knows, the Arts District on Santa Fe is packed on First Fridays, but is a ghost town the rest of the month. Even so, I met some wonderful and talented people during my time on Santa Fe and picked up several new patrons.
Nonetheless, Santa Fe was really not for me. The majority of the work in the district is very conservative compared to my work. In addition, galleries typically charge 50 percent of the work's sale price, a questionable expense at best, when one can sell more work to a broader clientele online. In my opinion, the game has changed for artists and for galleries. In this new paradigm, which I find more satisfying and which works well for me, many art patrons enjoy developing a personal relationship with an artist on social media. At this stage in my career, playing the "Gallery Game" and building a "gallery resume" no longer concerns me.
Still, others -- my shrink, for example -- continue to encourage me to show work in venues such as Vail or Aspen. Indeed, it is probably worthwhile for me to explore other venues such as Aspen, Vail and even here in Denver in the RiNo district -- more to expose myself to other patrons than to build a resume. And admittedly, I have a reclusive tendency. I often keep to my own studio, a street-level retail space below my townhouse in Lowry. I keep my studio private with invitation-only events in the spring and fall that are generally not open to the public. But, to answer your question, creating a Colorado program to link non-traditional Colorado artists to art venues in our mountain resort areas would provide much needed exposure for many astonishing Colorado artists to many out-of-state visitors who are unaware of Colorado's diverse artistic talent.
Paul Moschell, Naked Owls series.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
After six and half years in Denver I am proud to be friends with amazing artists such as Charlie Price, Andrea Li and Mondo Guerra, who have each in their own way reformed fashion and culture with their unique and recognizable works and brilliantly executed events.
Charlie Price is a coiffeur who has re-imagined extreme hair styling and cultural imagery. In addition, he publishes online magazines that stimulate and push people forward visually.
Andrea Li is a visionary jewelry designer who also creates events and performance pieces that revolve around her stunning work.
And, of course, there's my dear friend Mondo Guerra. Mondo is both a friend and an inspiration. His vision as a fashion and eyewear designer re-defines creativity.
Each of these individuals keep me excited about my own work and creativity. Although each of us have our own media and vision, we all inspire one another and see endless opportunities for collaboration. Exciting are things coming up.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Ask me tomorrow and then again the next day. I will tell you something different each day. Currently, my head is saturated with imagery and excitement. I'm working on a series of "Snow Queen" watercolor paintings. I am halfway through a series of matchbox paintings representing the Seven Deadly Sins. Last year, I completed two matchbox series: one honoring the incomparable Annie Lennox and the other set portraying the characters from the game Clue. I have requests in for a new performance video, and I am also working overtime on a series of ornate, found-object headpieces in my sculpture studio. After all of that, I will try to slip in a bit of sewing. I do my best not to be a one-trick pony.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2014?
I have no idea. And I'll probably have no idea who they are or when it happens. But I'm certain that they will deserve and enjoy the recognition. Support independent artists!
Learn more about Paul Moschell and his work at the Paul Moschell Artist Studio Facebook page.
Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
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