Artists find inspiration in Toledo

Hyatt and Anne Moore (left) are artists who reside in southern California, but they recently spent two weeks at the Old Church Studio in Toledo, an opportunity to get away from their normal routines and focus exclusively on their art. Hyatt Moore describes his paintings (above right) as leaning toward an impressionistic style. “I’m not as interested in realism. I like something that’s loose. And I paint large — from the shoulder,” he said. (Photos by Steve Card)

TOLEDO — Hyatt and Anne Moore have found a quiet and inspiring setting where they can both pursue their art and relax — the Old Church Studio in the Arts District of Toledo. The Moores traveled from their home in Dana Point, Calif., in November to spend two weeks devoted to their art — painting for Hyatt and printmaking for Anne.

It’s a vacation they have taken seven times over the last decade, staying first in the nearby former Justice of the Peace studio, now sold, and this year in the Old Church Studio, where the late Michael Gibbons painted. Following his death this year, the studio became available for rent by visiting artists.

“We usually go somewhere twice a year that’s a driveable distance. We have made friends over time who give us their places in Arizona and Mexico,” said Anne Moore.

“We saw an ad for a studio (the Old Church) for rent for artists, and thought that was the right answer to our vacation,” Hyatt Moore added. “We like to come for a week at a time, and this year, decided on two weeks.”

“I felt like we were on a ship,” Anne Moore said of their visit to the studio, a former Methodist church with a soaring ceiling and multi-level spaces. “It’s a wonderful experience. We’re free to play and work, and we’ve been very productive. We’ve driven to Newport and along the coast, but we mostly stay here and work. And being in Michael’s renovated studio, I’m so aware of his attention to detail.”

The Moores did not know Gibbons before they rented the Justice of the Peace house. “Michael would drop in and we’d chat,” Hyatt said, noting he and Michael were the same age. “And we would always go out to dinner with Michael and Judy at least once each trip. But I never saw him paint — we never painted together.”

Hyatt said they have a studio in their home, which he uses every day, but because Anne’s printmaking takes time to set up, it’s important for her to get away to be productive, making Toledo a place they are happy to come back to over the years.

Hyatt Moore’s Facebook page includes numerous photos of the coast and images of his waterscapes and landscapes painted in Lincoln County, a place he described as “serene and beautiful.” The past few weeks in Toledo have been productive for the Moores. By the beginning of their second week at the studio, Hyatt had completed about a dozen paintings, he said.

During their trips to Toledo, the Moores have been featured artists at the Toledo Art Walk and have visited with painter Ivan Kelly, whose home and gallery are a block away. Anne’s work is represented at the Freed Gallery in Lincoln City, and they stop in there as well.

“Michael was the catalyst for this area,” Hyatt said. “He put together this studio and museum (Yaquina River Museum of Art). It wouldn’t have happened without him. He built something here, and I respect him for it.”

The Moores borrow DVDs of the Italian Renaissance from the Toledo Public Library each time they visit, and play them as they work. “They’ve become a theme for us here,” Hyatt said. “They’re quite stimulating.”

Painting is Hyatt Moore’s third career, one he came to by chance in his mid-50s. And while he’s of retirement age, he does not consider himself retired, but instead, is a working painter. While he started by painting ethnic figures, he moved on to all manner of subjects — landscapes, still life and abstract — and he works in oils, his favorite medium, and acrylics.

“I’m closer to an impressionistic style,” he said. “I’m not as interested in realism. I like something that’s loose. And I paint large — from the shoulder.”

He began work as a graphic designer and was art director of Surfer Magazine for several years. “Then, because of a spiritual change in our lives, I joined the Wycliffe Bible Translators,” he said, noting he eventually spent five years as its president. His career with Wycliffe included stints in Papua New Guinea and Guatemala.

“Then in the mid-‘90s, the spirit of painting hit,” he explained. “I was driving home through Laguna Beach and looked into a gallery window, and had the feeling that I could do that and I’m going to be a painter. It hit like a lightning bolt! I was in a job that I loved, but the idea of painting was so strong that it happened. I stayed in my job for five or six years but began painting in the evenings.”

While working in British Columbia as director of development at the Canada Institute of Linguistics, he devoted one day of each work week to painting. “It felt like going to college for four years for an art degree,” he said. “Then, after 32 years with Wycliffe, I resigned in 2004 to move to my new career — Moore and Moore Art.

Anne Moore is a printmaker, working on a hand-crank press with both linocuts (hand-cut linoleum blocks) and monotypes.

“I fell into print-making when I was getting my Bachelor of Arts and needed some credits,” she recalled. “I took a print-making class and got hooked. Over a few years, I developed my own voice and started showing my work.”

She had been interested in art in college, but when she and Hyatt became involved with Wycliffe and they had children, she did not see art fitting in. “I loved being a mom,” said the mother of five.

Now she makes sure to schedule time for her printmaking, and shows her work in Laguna Beach and in their own “home shows.”

On their website, the Moores describe themselves as “partners in life, partners in art … we are committed to people. We are committed to the notion that there is not quite enough art in the world, and this is our contribution.”

The Moores are happy to see that Judy Gibbons is continuing her late husband’s vision of a Toledo arts community. “She has a great commitment to helping artists,” Hyatt said.

“I would suggest that artists in all stages of their careers find getting away to concentrate on their work (to be) a good way to grow and to succeed in their goals,” Judy Gibbons said. “Short-term weekly rentals of artist studios is a unique opportunity and one not often found easily, and the Old Church Studio is offering such a place.

“Short-term artists bring needs like shopping at the grocery store, purchase of gas and patronizing restaurants of this town as well,” she added. “It’s a big picture of what the artists can do for this town, as Michael always said.”

The Old Church offers a completely furnished studio and living space, and is available for bookings in January. For more information, leave a message at 541-336-2797 or [email protected]