Susan Moss’ emotionally charged yet lyrical paintings attest to her strength, precise control of color and depth, and her maverick originality. In the words of a liquor-store thief who stole Black Forest VII, (fortunately returned to the artist for a monetary award), “She really spilled out her guts on that one!” The painting was subsequently owned by Cliff and Mandy Einstein who eventually donated it to the Skirball Center’s Museum. Reaching a nationwide audience, Moss creates intriguing and inimitable works of art. Dealing with environmental catastrophe, war and peace, and psychological issues, Moss uses a lifetime of study of mediums, color, and methods that has led her to her newest series, Peace Pieces. This series consists of large-scale canvases and drawings saturated with vibrant color and curvilinear shapes. With slashing lines, searing color, and intense energy, the paintings resonate with spiritual power, like a prayer rug.
After leaving Otis Art Institute in 1970, she rented a studio and began spraying large canvases up to ten-feet utilizing a compressor, various spray guns, and airbrushes. These “cylinder” paintings of subtle, graduated color both bulged out towards the viewer while simultaneously sucking the viewer in. Tamara Thomas from Gallery 707, which featured women artists, sold her works to many banks and businesses around the state. Her paintings even drew the attention of prominent curator Barbara Haskell, who remains a fan of her work today.
Moss quit spraying paint after developing chronic bronchitis, and after a six-month interval when she could not paint at all, she began staining canvases with diluted acrylic paint. This series, called Soft-Hard-Edge, was widely collected through art consultant Lonny Gans. However, Moss grew frustrated with long drying times and flat surfaces that the medium offered. She began to experiment with acrylic paint mixed with Rhoplex, an acrylic binder, which she ordered in large drums to do commissioned works such as four ten-foot paintings for the newly built Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. This medium allowed her to work in a heavy impasto while also being transparent. She also began doing her own experimental paintings, which she showed at the David Findlay Jr. Gallery, located on Madison Avenue in New York City. The show was critically acclaimed and sold out to prestigious collectors like Lisa Dennison, who became the Director of the Guggenheim Museum. Chief Curator of the Museum of Modern Art, John Elderfield, also saw her show and subsequently visited her at her studio. Other visitors to her studio include Jack Tworkov, Richard Diebenkorn, Chuck Arnoldi, Victor Henderson, Robert A. Rowan (who became her patron), and Stephanie Barron (Chief Curator of Modern Art at LACMA).
Her Black Forest series is perhaps her most well-known works done in acrylic and Rhoplex. Consisting of seventeen paintings, this series is dedicated to her grandparents Edith and Richard Hecht, who died of starvation in the Bergen-Belson Concentration Camp in Germany. Unfortunately, after completing this series, Moss was diagnosed with borderline cancer and had to discontinue using the medium. Vertical blocks of bold, aggressive color contrasted with light, transparent areas and extruding lines, these remarkable paintings quickly sold out to top collectors. However, Moss became so ill that she could no longer use any paint at all. She turned to her drawings, previously known only to her as studies and sketches for her paintings. She began creating with oil crayons and special rag paper, blowing up her sketchbook notations into large-scale Earthslide drawings. After a year, she showed these drawings at the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo, New York. She has continued to create these psychologically and environmentally charged drawings, which have grown ever more complex in the passing years.
Moss’ many health challenges have caused her to switch mediums through the years, though never letting her creative force flag. In the nineties, she contracted breast and uterine cancer, and used herself as a human guinea-pig to explore natural healing. When it was successful, she wrote two books about the Marathon Olympic Tumor Eradication Program she utilized to get well: Keep Your Breasts! and Survive Cancer!, both international bestsellers. She has traveled the globe, lecturing on the natural approach to healing cancer of all types and appearing on international radio and TV news shows. She remains healthy today, twenty-one years later.
Moss’ true love of color is expressed in her most recent Peace Pieces series, created in a vibrant, varied palette with this new paint, often mixing colors that commonly clash to create harmony out of warring hues. A brilliant colorist, she was lauded by her professors at Otis for her keen eye. Moss says, “Color is a language of its own. Colors speak to each other. Exploring color is an exciting journey. Color brings emotion, depth, and vibrancy to the canvas.” Her new series features swooping, layered lines of intense, vivid colors. “Color comes first, then the theme follows,” she reveals about her working method. “Think and dream in color, envelope yourself in color, and you will radiate life!”
Working in a large-scale format, she feels both she and the viewer can truly delve into a large canvas. Moss cites William Mallord Turner, 19th Century English painter, as her biggest influence. She says that Turner’s atmospheric paintings resonate with her and even spent most of a trip to England in 1979 studying Turner watercolors at the British Museum library.
Other influences include Henry Matisse, Claude Monet, Josef Albers, Helen Frankenthaler, and Frank Stella, as well as Los Angeles artists Ed Moses and Chuck Arnoldi. Her surroundings also provide inspiration, saying: “I’m very influenced by L.A. and the environment that surrounds us. I think we’re very blessed to have this semi-tropical environment with all the green and trees and flowers and sky, with its stunning sunsets and atmosphere. It’s just a magnificent place to be a painter.”
- Chicago, Illinois, 1944
STUDIO: 4767 York Blvd., Los Angeles, Ca. 90042
1966: B.A. HONORS PROGRAM. University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada. Painting, Printmaking, Psychology.
1967: College Art Instructor. Cerra Cosa College, China Lake, Ca.
1967-70 Otis Art Institute, Graduate Studies. Taught painting at Otis: 1974
LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART
SKIRBALL MUSEUM AND CULTURAL CENTER
LAGUNA ART MUSEUM
MILLER, TABAK, HIRSCH, New York City, N.Y.
IBM, Los Angeles, Ca. and Charlotte, N.C.
PIER 66 HOTEL, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
UNION BANK OF SWITZERLAND
PEPSICO, New York.
WARNER BROTHERS RECORDS
COLDWELL BANKER HEADQUARTERS, Minnesota.
SECURITY PACIFIC BANK/BANK OF AMERICA
DR. SCHOLL PRODUCTS, London, England.
REGIS-McKENNA, San Francisco, Ca.
MORRISON AND FOESTER, San Francisco, Ca.
UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, Reno, Nevada.
ROY DISNEY/ STANLEY GOLD, SHAMROCK. Burbank, Ca.
PEP BOYS HEADQUARTERS, Los Angeles, Ca.
BUCHALTER, NEMER, CHRYSTIE, FIELDS, AND YOUNGER, Los Angeles, Ca. and Newport Beach, Ca.
JONES, DAY, REVIS AND POGUE, Chicago, Illinois.
“L.A. RISING: SO CA ARTISTS BEFORE 1980” by Lyn Kienholz with the Getty Foundation, 2011
“THE POSEN LIBRARY OF JEWISH CULTURE AND CIVILIZATION.” Yale University Press, 2012
2012: BLEICHER GALLERY, Los Angeles and Santa Monica
2008-9: GALLERY ARNAUD, Beverly Hills, Ca. “Earthslide” drawings from 3ft. to 8ft. with furniture by Frank Lloyd Wright, Isamu Noguchi, and Phillip Johnson.
2008: GALLERY ARNAUD, Beverly Hills, Ca. “Peace Pieces” Paintings and oils on paper.
2006: SHARQ Gallery, Pacific Palisades, Ca. “Peace Pieces” Paintings and Drawings.
2001: DON O’MELVENY Gallery, West Hollywood, Ca. “War and Peace.”
2000: DON O’MELVENY Gallery, West Hollywood, Ca. “Black Forest” and early Rhoplex paintings.
1999: CHASEN’S Restaurant, Beverly Hills, Ca. Paintings.
1994: MANNY SILVERMAN GALLERY, Los Angeles, Ca. Evening Booksigning and show.
1990: REBECCA CABO GALLERY, La Jolla, Ca. “Big Orange” and other paintings.
1989: BORITZER/GRAY Gallery, Venice, Ca. “Pond/Frond” Paintings and Drawings.
1989: SUNITOMA BANK Window Gallery, San Francisco, Ca.
1987: RUTH BACHOFNER Gallery, Los Angeles, Ca.
1985: RUTH BACHOFNER Gallery, Los Angeles, Ca.
1984: OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE Art Gallery, Los Angeles, Ca.
1982: SIMARD Gallery, Los Angeles, Ca. “Earthslide Series.”
1982: SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, Artist’s Gallery.
1980: ALBRIGHT-KNOX Gallery, Buffalo, New York, Thirty “Earthslide” drawings.
1980: SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, Artist’s Gallery.
1979: LONNY GANS Gallery, Los Angeles, Ca. “Black Forest” paintings and drawings.
1976: DAVID FINDLAY JR. Gallery, New York, N.Y. Early Rhoplex paintings.
1976: LONNY GANS Gallery, Beverly Hills, Ca. “Black Forest” paintings
1973: GALLERY 707, Los Angeles, Ca. Large-scale spray paintings.
2013 MICHAEL LORD GALLERY, Palm Springs, Ca.
2013 DESERT AIDS AUCTION: Palm Springs, Ca.
2013 INCOGNITO: Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, Ca.
2012: INCOGNITO: Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, Ca.
2011: PACIFIC STANDARD TIME PREVIEW: Bleicher Gallery, Los Angeles, Ca.
2011: FUTURE STUDIO: Studio Tour Preview, Los Angeles, Ca.
2011: FOR THE BIRDS: Debs Park Bird Sanctuary, Los Angeles, Ca
2010: FUTURE STUDIO, Los Angeles, Ca.
2010: TRACK 16 GALLERY, BERGAMOT STATION, Political Graphics.
2010: VALLEY INSTITUTE OF THE VISUAL ARTS, Honorable Mention Award.
2009: SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, Artist’s Gallery.
2009: MOCA, Los Angeles, Ca. Fresh Auction. Black and White “Earthslide” drawing.
2008: POLITICAL GRAPHICS, Union station, Los Angeles, Ca.
2007: ACORN Gallery, Studio Tour Preview.
2007: PAWS, L.A.,Ca.
2007: MOCA, Los Angeles, Ca. Summer show and auction.
2007: SANTA MONICA MUSEUM OF ART, “Incognito”.
2007: SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, Artist’s Gallery.
2007: BARNSDALL Municipal Gallery: “Peace Pieces” Curator: Jeff Phillips.
2006: EAGLE ROCK ART CENTER: Juried Show. Christopher Miles, Curator.
2006: ART SEEN: AIDS Auction and Sale, Union Station, L.A. Ca.
2006: TAKADA Gallery, San Francisco, Ca.
2006: SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, Artist’s Gallery.
2006: TAKADA Gallery, San Francisco, Ca. January Group Show.
2005: LAGUNA ART MUSEUM: Laguna Beach, Ca. Annual Auction and Show.
2005: SANTA MONICA MUSEUM OF ART: Incognito.
2005: MOCA, Los Angeles, Ca. “Fresh” Auction.
2004: GALLERY YORAMGIL, Art Seen, AIDS show and auction.
2004: SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, Annual Show and sale.
2004: CENTER FOR POLITICAL GRAPHICS, Auction and sale, Union Station.
2004: AIDS Project, Florida: Design Center of the Americas, Fort Lauderdale.
2004: LAGUNA ART MUSEUM: Annual Auction.
2003: DIVINE DESIGN, Beverly Center, Los angeles, Ca. AIDS benefit.
2002: LAGUNA ART MUSEUM; Show and Auction.
2002: DESIGN, Beverly Center, Los Angeles, Ca. AIDS benefit.
2000: MOCA, “Fresh” Auction and Show.
1997: MUSEUM OF ART, Downtown. L.A. Ca. “The Color Blue.’
1993: LOWE Gallery, Santa Monica, Ca.
1993: FLUX Gallery, Los Angeles, Ca.
1993: BARNSDALL JUNIOR ARTS CENTER, Los Angeles, Ca. “Homesite.”
1990: FORUM Gallery, New York, N.Y.
1989: SKIRBALL ART CENTER, Los Angeles, Ca. “Recent Gifts”. “Black Forest VII” donated by Cliff and Mandy Einstein.
1988: VAN STRAATEN Gallery, Chicago, Illinois.
1986: LAART, New York, N.Y.
1986: RUTH BACHOFNER Gallery, Los Angeles, Ca. “Original Works on Paper.
1984: LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY, Loma Linda, Ca. Cover of Catalogue.
1982: ART CENTER COLLEGE OF DESIGN: Pasadena, Ca. “Recent Acquisitions of the Robert A. Rowan Collection.
1980: PACIFIC DESIGN CENTER, Los Angeles, Ca. “Otis Art Institute Graduates”.
1980: VENICE ART WALK: Fifteen annual auctions and shows.
1979: LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART: “Change” Organized by Robert Rauschenberg. Also shown at the NEWPORT HARBOR ART MUSEUM, Newport Beach, Ca.
1977: LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART, Rental Gallery, Los Angeles, Ca.
1976: RE:VISION GALLERY, Santa Monica, Ca.
1975: ROBERTA FUERSTEIN Gallery, Santa Monica, Ca.
1973: MARGO LEAVIN Gallery, “Young American Graphics, Hamburg, Germany and Claremont Colleges, Claremont, Ca.
1973: BRAND LIBRARY ART CENTER, Los Angeles Printmaking Society.
1972: BRAND LIBRARY ART CENTER, Glendale, Ca. “Color 72” with Martha Alf, Gwynn Murrell, Gloria Kisch, and Diana Hobson. Organized by Bob Smith.
1967: OTIS ART INSTITUTE, Juried show. Watercolor.
1966: NEVADA ART GALLERY, Western Regional, Prize: “Marcus Garvey on Parade.’ Oil on Canvas.