Camping with Beth Moore-Love
Once, when she was in high school, Beth Moore-Love walked into her counselor’s office. “What do you want to do when you grow up?” asked her counselor.
Beth Moore-Love replied, “I want to go camping.”
“Oh, Beth, be realistic.”
I’ve always found it immensely important to visit other artists’ studios. It’s osmosis or something. I’ve always learned more from being in another artist’s space than I ever learned in a workshop, lecture, or on the all-knowing internet.
So when I came to visit Beth Moore-Love, I was enchanted to discover her studio was a yurt. That is, her studio is a portable, bent dwelling structure traditionally used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. She built it during a time when she wasn’t making much art. She had been taking care of her father, who suffered from severe dementia. Since her father died, Beth has been using the yurt as her studio, where she makes chillingly beautiful, detail-laden paintings.
Beth’s free spirit and thumb-to-nose style dictate her art and the place she works. “Everything hangs from the walls and weights it. That way, you don’t have to tie it down,” Beth said. Her yurt is only as permanent as the things it holds. She’s freewheeling. She can move on any time she likes. She’s camping.
Every piece of the wall lattice and the roof poles were hand-cut by Beth with a Japanese handsaw. The crown was made with the help of a woodworking friend.
We talked all about her caring for her father and how she’s trying to get back to where she was before his dementia. We talked about the muse. We talked about her yurt. We talked a little about the movie, which just so happens to be called LOVE, but I’ll spare you those details since you can hear all about it on the podcast we recorded last week, Self-Employed Happy Hour.
Austin Madrid, who took all these photos, remarked to Beth that she was hugely photogenic. I felt the same way about the way she talked. There’s something in her speech. A slow, funky, direct delivery of quiet profundity that you just have to capture.
In keeping with the spirit of visiting one’s studio, I’ll go now and leave you to the images and words of Beth Moore-Love.
“Beauty is a Curse.”
“I was hanging out with my friend Diego last night—probably longer than I should have— in his studio where he makes music. Oh, he’s great. He takes these cumbia, merengue, reggaeton beats and layers noise over the top and does this amazing stuff. God, I had to get up in the morning, though. I offered him a ride home, and he said ‘I can’t stop. I’m all hopped on this.’ And it reminded me of when I used to stay up all night painting. I want to get back to that place again.”
“If I’m really slamming on it, I’ll finish a painting in about a month. The paintings are intensive. I don’t rush them. I read in one of those marketable artist books that an artist should crank out five paintings a month. Fuck that.”
“I miss being on a roll. I gotta get back in the routine of doing, moving. I would write down my hours of painting in a calendar. There are so many distractions—friends, especially. Friends who just don’t get it. Sometimes I have to put my foot down, and then people really respect it. And I have to get that back. Make sure everyone understands that this is my job. This is what I do.”
“Every good life must have a little shit fall on it. When I had to give it all up for my father, I said, ‘Now it’s our turn.’ And I felt okay at that point. That was acceptance.”
“If My Hand Should Offend Thee.”
“I have a vision of what I want it to be, but by the end it turns into what it’s supposed to be. It’s like something else coming through you to create the vision.”
Photos by Austin Madrid of JAK Media.