The first thing that strikes you about plastic artist Beverly Moor is her youthful demeanor. She wears her years well, and exudes positive energy.
Beverly is herself a paradigm of her art—vibrant, unique, and elegant, all in one package. Her latest exhibit at Casa de Europa was part of a group show titled “Paradox,” which embodies what art is—a conflict between what is real and what is imagined, between truth and fiction, between order and chaos.
Her artwork falls between the cracks of all these intersections and elicits a wide range of visual and emotional experiences. Some evoke a smile of joy, as for instance the piece shown below, where the blending of textures and bright colors evoked for me a spring meadow filled with flowers. It can mean something altogether different to someone else, but the sculpture is full of interesting shapes, and textures to keep the viewer mesmerized.
Others, like one titled “Long hot summer,” is done in monotones of grey, which for someone might bring to mind a cloudy day, or a polluted sky. But there is a delicate, ethereal quality to it, and close inspection reveals what looks like thin fabric, and brings to mind the opulence of metallic brocade.
Long Hot Summer
Several works carry a social message, from which Beverly does not shy away. One such example is her large installation titled “Hotel Feo,” which will resonate with many residents of San Miguel, particularly those who have been living here for a long time. It’s a grim depiction of the excesses of unsightly new hotels, as the title states “Hotel Ugly.”
Another, socially conscious work—before which the artist is pictured—engages sight, touch, and smell. Ragged pieces of leather hang on meat hooks, simulating what one would expect in the storage rooms of a butcher shop. Come closer and you can smell the leather, and feel the soft texture of the cured cow hides. What you make of it, is your own interpretation.
Beverly calls her mixed media works “repurposed,” because they metamorphose from a function they may have had, to something entirely new. A case in point is an interesting piece composed of plastic circles and wires, which were discards from torn Acapulco Chairs. They were in a large container ready to be dumped in the trash when Beverly saw them and decided to give them a new life. She uses conglomerates of discards—pieces of cloth, cardboard, shiny potato chips bags, which through her imagination and skill become something unique and aesthetically pleasing. She perfectly exemplifies the dictum: “one’s man’s trash is another man’s (or woman’s) treasure.”
Not all of Beverly’s creations are gathered detritus, some she creates from scratch, such as a series of plastic sculptures with mirrors. She created the plastic sculptures herself, then inserted pieces of mirrors in many of the empty spaces, the viewer’s reflection of his or her image brings an additional dimension to the experience.
The day I interviewed Beverly, a group of children of elementary and junior high age, were visiting the gallery with their teacher. That, in itself was a pleasant experience. Introducing the younger generation to art means bringing together past, present, and future. The children passed by the mirror display, hardly stopping on their way, until I said to them: “Porque no se miran en los espejos?”—why don’t you look at yourselves in the mirrors?” Their transformation was instantaneous and remarkable. They peered at their images in the mirrors, taking in the entire artistic display without being aware of it.
Children are the purest art critics because they have not yet acquired the dissimulation skills of adults. When asked about their opinion about a piece of art, you can get anything from a shrug of the shoulders, an “it sucks,” or a sincere “it’s awesome!” In this case there was no need for words, their intense inspection, and the time they lingered said it all. Below is a close up of a section.
Like so many other artists, Beverly’s journey to San Miguel was a long, round about journey. She was born in New Jersey, but grew up on Houston where her family moved. She studied art history at the University of Texas, got married after college and started a family. When they moved to Rhode Island, she fulfilled a long-time desire of “doing art herself” by enrolling in night classes at the Rhode Island School of Design, and began creating art. Starting with oils, then textiles which led to weaving, free-form crochet, and overlays using layers and layers of cloth, led to cloth sculptures that eventually landed her commission for large installations to major corporations.
Beverly gravitates toward massive pieces, something that attracted her even as a young girl. She recalls her mother saying “for a little girl, you like big things!” The appreciation for large pieces was manifested in her works at Casa de Europa.
Eventually, in the 90s, Beverly’s marriage ended and she began looking for a new place to live. She had visited Mexico in the past, and always appreciated the culture and the people. She visited San Miguel in 2002, and knew at once this was where she wanted to live. A year later she bought a house, added a studio, and has now been living here for twenty years. Her children are all grown, and they love visiting, and are happy to see their mother thriving.
I asked Beverly to give me her thoughts of what she most appreciates in life. She said that it is “having a passion,” what she sees in her friends who are involved in the arts. She doesn’t lack ideas, or energy, she only worries about running out of time. Her art channels her “pent up energy,” transforming it into a creative dynamic that results in the fantastic pieces she crafts.