A Journey: Cottonwood Chapter
This phase began as a joint venture with my friend and fellow carver
Brian, when we wanted to score some good carving stone in large sizes, and
our friend Amy put us in touch with a quarry/mill in Indiana. We pooled
our meager dollars and ordered a trailer full of limestone, I think about
30,000 pounds. One block, by chance, was bigger than Brian’s truck could
handle, so I got to keep it, all 3 tons of it. I had rented a forklift for the
day. The load was delivered by a hyperactive Russian trucker named Alexei, and
after he departed, Brian and I picked out our favorites, then he loaded up
his rig and went on home. I was left with a dozen nice blocks of Indiana
oolitic to ring and drool over. The only one that was indisputably mine
weighed much more than my little Ford tractor would be able to lift, so I
decided to prepare it for carving before returning the forklift to the
rental shop. I wacked off a two foot chunk, and stood the remainder
upright next to my carving shed. It was 7ft high, 3 ft wide and 2 ft deep
There it sat for several months, while the smaller piece became a
SEEKER, and other things happened, until one day I just knew what was
hiding in there, and started carving. The design was based on a group of
pieces called SLOW DANCE, all dancing couples partly embraced, and rooted
into the earth as trees. Ents and Entwives? It’s a long story, involving
Maralyne and me and our romance, but by this time the image had refined
itself and become so clear that I whipped out a 1/5 scale macquett in a
couple days. Then I waited a few more days while asking the block for help
and pleading with the image to stay still long enough, and finally
accepted the inevitable and dived into the stone.
I carved like a madman, with hand tools only and with the purest of
thoughts, for 19 days, dawn to dusk, in ecstatic frenzy, until I
collapsed. It was done. Not one hesitation, not one doubt, not one
recarve, not one lick more than necessary, it was done.
A man and woman, tenderly but solidly holding each other in a
gently swaying rhythm. Their hands are becoming branches and twigs, her
hair willow and his cottonwood leaves, and their feet are rooting deep
into the earth. Muscles are smoothly hinted at, faces are serene, the
motion is paused in a timeless embrace.
A very nice piece, and I love looking at it and touching it every day, but
I have nowhere to show it and share it, when I happened to call my friend
and mentor Myrna, who is just opening Monarch Art Center, a new sculpture
park near Olympia. She says bring it on down, it will have a place of
honor at the entrance to the park. Rent a truck, rent a forklift, off we
go to Monarch. Myrna loves it and calls it a major work, and we place it
in a very nice spot just inside the park. They are preparing for a big
open house in a couple of weeks, and I drive home alone, $500 poorer, but
elated. Nothing happened.
A year later I pick it up and haul it back to Anacortes, where it stands
proudly in front of the Depot Gallery and my first one man show as a stone
carver. Nothing happens.
Next year I enter it at Big Rock Garden, haul it to Bellingham, and
George loves it, but nothing happens.
End of that year I haul it home, now nearly $2000 in hauling costs and
what to do with it now. It stands where it was born and I hug it every day
and vow never to let it go again, until one day new friend Kay stops by
and invites me to bring it out to Westcott Bay where the sculpture park is
getting ready for its 2nd exhibition and she needs big works. OK.
Two years it stands in a lovely location up the hill, in front of a big
fir tree, looking out over the little valley, getting good exposure and
some loving comments from visitors. Nothing.
I had resigned myself to letting it just stay there forever, I didn’t
have the energy nor the money to bring it home, and was seriously
considering giving up my sculpture career altogether. One beautiful
September day Kay calls, gives me a name and a phone number, says call him
right now. Jerry, a music producer from Hollywood, has a summer estate on
San Juan Island, he and his wife Ann had just come from a patrons party at
the sculpture park, where they fell in love with SLOW DANCE.
Hello Mr. Moss, I be the carver yes sir, its for sale, I bring it right
over to you. Next week, the day before they fly home to Beverly Hills, we
set it up in front of a beautiful pond, looking down at their house and
the water, and it was truly magical. This was the home it was meant for.
I get a check, the biggest paycheck I’ve ever had, go my merry way home.
The following week I offer to give Kay a little sculpture for her faith
and kindness, anything she wants, and she picks out my latest SEEKER, a
small one. A female one, made of Carrara marble given me by M J, another
friend and mentor.
Take the check home, pay some bills, there’s money left. Maralyne says
lets go looking for new galleries, maybe you can buy some new stone and
make some new sculptures.
We walk into Blue Horse gallery and meet Wade, such a sweet man he says
we’re going to France in the spring, you want a go? Money in pocket says
Now the next spring we actually go to France with Wade and 19 new friends,
what happens next?