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Mose T. from A to Z: The Folk Art of Mose Tolliver

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      The Story Of A Remarkable Man Told Through Art.

Title: Mose T. from A to Z:  The Folk Art of Mose Tolliver

Author: Anton Haardt

Publisher: Saturno Press (January 2005)

Genre:  Art

ISBN: 0975384209000

Hardcover: 90 pages



Rating: Highly Recommended.


July 20, 2005


Well over three decades ago, Mose Tolliver was injured on the job as a load of marble fell on his legs – crushing them.  To “clear his head”, Mose began to paint a variety of subjects with the hopes of selling his works for a few dollars or trading them for food.  One may call that the end…but this hobby became the beginning of so much more.


Anton Haardt, an artist, photographer and author – as well as an inspiration too many in and out of the art world – forged a friendship with Mose Tolliver.  To help him out she began to show his art to larger galleries.  She would try to sell his art work for twenty-five dollars or more as opposed to the one or two dollars that he would normally accept.  In 1982, his work was displayed at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  At the “Black Folk Art in America 1930-1980” Exhibition.  Critics questioned if his art was actually Art...due to the fact that it was so different.  Regardless of the initial reaction by the “Art World”, his work soon developed a market and the demand and value of his work increased.  His unconventional style stretched the boundaries of folk art at that time, but soon after and today, his work is respected and purchased by people from all walks of life. Today, he is the last surviving artist from the Corcoran Exhibition.


This is a quote highlighted in “MoseT A to Z: The Folk Art of Mose Tolliver.”


“I just think of something I want to paint and I’ll try it and I’ll keep working until it looks all right to me, then if someone buys it – it must be all right.”


The world has spoken and his work exceeds “all right.”  His use of unconventional media such as house paint on wood eliminates the option of hiding bad art under exciting and expensive materials.  His artwork is true and pure and sought after by a diverse audience.  Who pay what some would pay for works by more famous artists.  He used to sell paintings for a few dollars, but now that has escalated to thousands of dollars.  He is a true inspiration to budding artists, causing them to persevere and never give up the part of their own “selves” that they paint – regardless of the critics!


Anton Haardt does an excellent job of explaining in her book the ideas behind Mose’s work in his own words.  Each painting means something to him and he tries to paint that thought or idea in its purest form.  Some of his paintings are done in rich earth tones, causing the subject matter to outweigh the media.  Other works have some sexual overtones – but it is handled with charisma and not overdone.  He draws inspiration from family members or children playing outside.  His paintings have unique titles such as French Magnolia Lily, Hatching Bird House and Jimma Jamma Girl (use your imagination)! These unique paintings have unique stories and that is a part of the reason for their acceptance and appeal. A lot of his works are various self portraits as he draws from himself for inspiration – either way, when you see a “MoseT” with the signature reverse “S” applied, you know that it was either painted by him – or signed by him.

Pick up a copy of “MoseT A to Z: The Folk Art of Mose Tolliver” today and discover the work of a true artist who’s transition from obscurity to fame has been documented by his friend of 35 years.  I must thank Anton Haardt for sharing Mose’s story with us.  It’s an excellent story and excellent journal of an amazing artist who will see fame in his own lifetime after a disaster that caused him to pick up a paintbrush – and share his inner thoughts with us.


Tyrone V. Banks