Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Philip Moore - A National Treasure - Passes On

A Veteran Artist and Sculptor, Philip Moore was a Guyanese National Treasure.  He died at his home on May 13th, 2012.
He was 91 years old.
The story of how we came to meet Philip and spend a day with him is really a curious one.  One day, during the Spring before we moved to Guyana, we were at Andrea's Mom's apartment in New York City. All of a sudden Salvador stopped in front of a painting in the hallway.  How many times have we passed that same painting?  This time he stopped..."Does that say P. Moore?"..."Is that a Philip Moore?".  Andrea had no idea what he was talking about.  "Call your Mother right now!!!!"  We got Mom on the phone and she confirmed that yes, indeed it was a painting by Guyanese artist Philip Moore.  It was a gift to her husband, Dr. Carl A. Fields when he left Princeton University in 1971 by the Association of Black Collegians. Philip Moore had been an artist in residence at Princeton during some of the same years that Carl was at Princeton. Carl had been the first African American Dean of an Ivy League University and his legacy lives on at The Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding at Princeton University.
The coincidences were too much for Salvador.  How was it possible that the most famous Guyanese artist of his time had been at Princeton when Carl was there and that one of his paintings was hanging right there in front of him in Mom's apartment in New York City.

In December when we arrived in Guyana, we were telling this story to our good friend Jocelyn.  She asked us if we would like to visit Philip. Within minutes she had him on the telephone.  "Philip, there is someone here who would like to speak with you."  Andrea took the receiver and said, "Philip?  This is Carl Fields' daughter."  "NO!" he said.  "Yes!" she said.  "Where are you" he asked.  "I am in Georgetown."  "WELL COME THEN!"  And we made arrangements to go visit Philip the following day.
Andrea showed Philip a picture of the painting on the computer.  
He recognized it immediately.
"That is called The African Drummer, it was a gift to Carl from the boys, when he moved to Zambia.
Andrea showed Philip pictures of Carl from the time he had known him more than 35 years before.
Salvador talked to him about the collection of his work at the National Art Gallery in Georgetown.  He asked Philip about the enormous framed paintings that hung suspended from the ceiling.  They were painted on both sides!  Salvador commented on this unique style.  Philip just shook his head, "Man, canvas is expensive. You paint everything you can!"
He was still creating the most amazing pieces. This three dimensional piece, started with an old pair of blue jeans.
Wooden sculptures made from local wood
The most amazing paintings everywhere you look!
Even magazines with his artwork on the cover and articles about Philip.

There was a shipping barrel made of cardboard that is used when 
friends and family send packages to Guyana from the United States.
Philip had painted every inch!!
 He poked tiny little holes all over it. 
 Inside the barrel he hung tiny Christmas lights.  When it was plugged in the lights shone through the holes and it lit up like New York City skyscrapers!
Andrea asked Philip what his first reaction was to Princeton. 
Philip laughed!
He said, "Man is more than matter!"
He talked long about his experiences there.  Supplies were so hard to come by in Guyana, but at Princeton they just kept coming!  More and more canvas! He couldn't believe that he was given so much and encouraged to create the art he was so passionate about.

In the corner of his living room on a shelf were two Princeton mugs.
We toasted Princeton.  We toasted Carl.  We toasted new friends.
Before you knew it, it was time to say good-bye. 
What an unforgettable day!

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