Margie Moss | Artist | Impressionist Painter
All Original Work
Dhani Jones, former NFL Football Player and Founder of BowTies for a Cause was our special guest at Local Color Art Gallery to kick off sales of Joplin’s official bowtie designed by Margie Moss. The proceeds benefit Rebuild Joplin and Spiva Center for the Arts. The silk bowties are available at Spiva Center for the Arts for $57.00.
By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
JOPLIN, Mo. — A quick glance about the Post Memorial Art Reference Library this month and one might think the library had obtained special access to works by the masters: Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse and the like.
Until they spotted the tennis balls.
There’s “Harmony in Red (The Red Room),” one of Mattisse’s recognizable pieces circa 1908. But look closely, and you’ll see the addition of a tennis court out the window and a sleeve of balls on the table along with the iconic tea set.
There’s “The Starry Night,” a Vincent Van Gogh circa 1889, that typically resides in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It’s still there, actually. Look closely at the one in Post, and you’ll see a tennis ball “star” in the sky.
That’s the work of Joplin artist Margie Moss, who says she hopes the masters have a sense of humor like she does.
“I think Raphael would laugh,” she said. “I don’t know, actually. Who knows? Some artists were probably more serious than others, but you would hope they’d find humor in them.”
Moss, a member of the Local Color Art Gallery in the historic Gryphon Building, has made her living for the past 30 years as owner of the Joplin Decorating Center. But lately, she finds herself more and more drawn to the gallery.
“The more I paint, the more I love it. And the more you paint, the better you get, so you get encouraged,” she said. “And then you love it more.”
Moss also loves tennis, which explains her unique twist on classics such as “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” by Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch painter in the 1600s.
“He painted her 350 years ago, but that painting was lost for 200 years, and no one really knows the identity of her,” said Moss. “I thought she has on a blue, almost Nike-looking headband.”
So Moss copied the original, tempted to put a white Nike swish on the headband but stopping short of doing so for fear of being sued. “Instead, I decided she was a tennis diva, and gave her tennis ball earrings. No doubt her demure look hides the fact that she was a killer on the court.”
Moss is somewhat of a tennis diva herself.
“I’d never really been exposed to it much in the small town I grew up in,” said Moss, a native of Newton, Kan. “I first picked up a racket when I went to the University of Arkansas and found two tennis courts behind the dorm.”
Meawhile, she became an art major, but didn’t do so well at painting and threw what she created away. She went on to work for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City as a buyer and design coordinator.
The turning point for her own art career came when she moved to Joplin in 1980 and began interior decorating.
She and her husband, Dick, began their family soon after, which now includes Katie, 29, and Cole, 23, who grew up creating their own Christmas cards. Cole recently graduated from art school in Los Angeles and has a book due out in November.
In some of the area’s nicest homes, Moss noticed the work of local artist Jeff Legg.
“I tracked him down and asked if he’d teach lessons, and he agreed,” she said. That was 20 years ago, and Legg has since gone on to be a master signature member of Oil Painters of America.
Moss credits that experience with jumpstarting her art career. The family decorated their home with prints of famous works, and as Moss became more adept at painting, she copied them, one by one, to replace the prints with real paintings.
At the same time, she began playing tennis at Millenium with a group of Joplin area ladies who formed a team.
Against all odds, they beat out teams from Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri to qualify for nationals in Indian Wells, Calif.
“And thus my creative mind went to work combining my love of tennis and art,” Moss said.
All told, she created 12 tennis ball paintings Ñ all oil on 8-by-8-inch canvasses Ñ and has done a great deal of research about each of the masters and their originals.
Take Raphael, who was out walking in the countryside and came upon a young woman and her baby. He was taken with her, and asked if she would sit for him. She agreed, but although he had his paints and brushes, he lacked a canvas. Looking about, he spied a wooden barrel top and used that as his surface.
Later hungry, he stopped in an inn, but realized he had no money for dinner. The innkeeper agreed to provide him one in exchange for the painting. It hung in the inn for who knows how long until being discovered.
Now, Madonna of the Chair is one of the five most valuable paintings in Europe and hangs in the Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy. Moss’s interpretation of it is among the exhibit at the Post.
She also has exhibited paintings at “Brushstrokes,” Spiva Center for the Arts, Art Central and St. Avip’s Gala and Art Auction during the last 10 years and has won several awards.
Now, she’s searching for the perfect tennis-related organization to gift the paintings to, with the hopes that her paintings can benefit someone the way tennis has benefited her.
“It’s just so enjoyable to be able to do the thing you love to do.”
Local artist Margie Moss will hold an open house will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Post Memorial Art Reference Library, where her exhibit, “Tennis Ball Masterpieces,” is on display through August. Giclee prints are for sale.