Through the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma’s Land Run
Paul Moore’s 5,000 sq ft. studio in an old building on Main St. in Norman, OK, displays his unique connection to America’s expansive cultural past. On a beautiful brick wall hangs historic guns, hats and memorabilia, while in another part of the studio, an ornate antique door from the demolished, former Tulsa archdiocese mansion draws you further into Paul’s world of Oklahoma history. Numerous clay sculptures in differing stages of completion make you aware of Moore’s unbelievable work load and accomplishments. A large part of his studio is more industrial in appearance with open spaces where scaffolds can be erected to sculpt and then make molds for his monumental sized pieces.
Keeping the history and heritage of his ancestors alive is a driving force behind Paul’s amazing litany of sculptures. His art retells stories of his great-great grandmother who walked the Trail of Tears, one great-grandfather who lived next door to Quanah Parker and another grandfather who rode the Chisholm Trail. As a fifth generation Oklahoman and member of the (Creek) Muscogee Nation, Sweet Potato Clan, Paul’s rich bloodlines connect him to many cultures and aspects of the American West’s diverse history.
Becoming a new member of the Cowboy Artists of America in 2009 doesn’t mean Paul is new to sculpture, western art or friendships with the CAs. As a young man working at Ace Powell’s foundry in Kalispell MT, he delivered bronze castings to Bob Scriver, and was well acquainted with Fred Fellows and Dave Powell. In the late 1970’s invited by Joe Beeler to Sedona, Paul spent time watching Joe paint, listening and telling Indian stories, learning to make armatures, and realizing his life was forever changed that day. Moore regrets Joe didn’t live to see him become a part of his beloved Cowboy Artists’ family. Paul now says, “From the first day, I was welcomed and felt an equal part of this special brotherhood of artists, whom I have admired since the earliest days of my artistic career.”
With sculptures in the United States Capitol collection, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, President John F. Kennedy at the U.S. Army’s Fort Bragg, NC, San Diego Zoo, and more than 120 other commissions, Paul is finishing his phenomenal achievement of 45 larger-than-life sized figures representing the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run, which covers 365 ft. at Oklahoma City’s Bricktown. With all these prestigious commissions under his belt, it is easy to understand why Moore is recognized as one of the most “in demand” sculptors in America today. His superhuman efforts are accomplished with the assistance of wife, Kim and two sons who make molds, produce photography, advertising, secretarial needs and tend to the business end of his work. Being the “Artist in Residence” at the University of Oklahoma at Norman since 1997 is just one more assignment Paul conscientiously fulfills. This remarkably responsible, cooperative and hard working man has collaborated with many diverse governmental, civic, military and corporate organizations to produce an amazing lifetime of work. A passion sparked in him as a boy when he saw James Earle Frasier’s “End of the Trail,” blossomed into a body of work which will keep his sculptures and the name of Paul Moore alive for generations. Keep watching, he’s not finished yet!!
~written by Merry Nebeker – April 2011