Sunday, December 12, 2010

December Art Walk and Christmas Parade 2010

The Downtown Pomona Holiday Parade kicked off this months Second Saturday. It was a great parade with lots of participants and a huge crowd gathered along the streets of Downtown Pomona. We were represented in the "for of a Blog float" with, complete with matching shirts, a banner and a decorated truck. Some of the other colony peeps, were the dA Gallery and Metro Pomona. The parade lasted just under two hours and was a huge success with great weather and a huge turnout of people, should be even better next year. On to Second Saturday, there were tons of people out doing the art walk on a perfect night. dA Gallery changed things up with their Artisan Holiday Sale. SCA Gallery produced a great show with work from it's members. At Bunny Gunner we had the photographs of Max S. Gerber and had a great opening with a relaxing atmosphere. Next door, the newly opened EVE Gallery featured a show titled "Christ Vs. Claus". Metro Gallery, the hosts of the parade, exhibited the slick paintings of Alex Couwenberg with his "Over the Years" show. There were many more shows that night and they can be viewed here. There will be no Last Saturday this month due to Christmas, so see you in January!
Photo credits: Denis Thorp, Richard Nunez, Juan and Susie Thorp

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bloggers of Pomona in Christmas Parade

Please join us Saturday morning for the Christmas Parade!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Delicious dinner at the 2nd Street Bistro

Absolutely Delicious!

The Bistro is Back! 2nd St. Bistro that is, and the food is amazing. We have dinned there now a few times and have enjoyed every meal. Some of the items we have tried are the Bistro Salad, lettuce wraps, and salmon dinner. We decided to have dinner there on Saturday night and were glad to see they were open. The owner, Tony, told us about the specials and we had excellent service from our waiter, Daniel, who was very pleasant and attentive. I chose the Steak Chimichurri. Chef Alex, created this awesome perfectly cooked steak and paired it with a seafood kabob, rice pilaf, and black beans with salsa. The kabob included grilled veggies, shrimp, salmon and mahi mahi. The steak was covered in a tasty green sauce and was one of the tastiest dishes I have ever eaten. Susie had the Mahi Mahi with a Macadamia
nut crust and a bowl of Chicken vegetable soup that she raved over, saying it was perfect! After finishing this meal, I joked that I could eat the exact same thing again. We had to ask Tony where he found his Chef. Alex came from The City Broiler which closed it's doors in Chino Hills. Man this guy can cook! Tony also said they just installed a grill, so we were lucky to try out Chef Alex's grillin' magic.
If you haven't been to the 2nd St. Bistro lately, do yourself a favor and try the Steak Chimichuri.

Italian and French Cuisine. From the moment you walk through the red French doors you know that you are in for something special. The beautiful brick walls are adorned with vintage 1940's posters and pictures. The tin ceiling gives the dark hardwood floors a perfect blend of balance. "Italy meets France" comes together at the Art Colony. 171 W. 2nd St. Pomona, CA,91766 Mon-Fri 11am-3pm / Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm
909-622-6619 Phone

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November Artwalk 2010

November art walk marks the opening of a few new galleries and a whole list of great shows. Starting on the "West Side" Fr. Bill Moore Gallery exhibited the work of Mike Glass with his painting on glass. A few doors down, Indigo gallery presented the photography of Dave Bullock with his "LA Walkabouts". 20 Miles East show the various works of students from the area. Just next door at the Sculpture Garden, Mike Severin curated a Door Show with interesting works from various artists. Further East, AC Projects featured the acrylic and metal sculptures of Dean DeCocker. At Bunny Gunner, we showed the art of P. Williams with his many brightly colored paintings. Metro Gallery brought in an artist from Peru, Loan Louis. NY Delight had the photographic works of Dean Larson. Just South, Pedersen Projects showcased a solo show of paintings by Jophen Stein. SCA Gallery included a juried group show of works by SCA members. Just next door, Latino Art Museum held a fund raising event selling works on paper. Around the Corner dba256 featured the art of Brandon Spiegel with bright colored geometric paintings. Next door the dA Gallery had the Aztlan show for a second month. Down the alley, Hole the Wall Gallery presented the art of Ian Trout and Kim Alexander with their bricks and donuts installation. Pomona newest gallery EVE Gallery hosted the painting of Ortega and Cisneros.
There were much more things going one, but you have to come down and see for yourself.

Photo credits: Ren, Jill Carol, Denis Thorp, Kirk Pedersen, Juan Thorp

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October Artwalk 2010

Second Saturday continues to grow. October 2010 art walk paved the way for some new galleries joining the ever-growing colony. Indigo Gallery opened it's doors with a show titled "Artists We Know".
Gallery owners
Chris and Jen did an excellent job of presenting the art of some dozen "regular" artists. On the other end of the colony, NY Delight had their grand opening of their sandwich/pastry shop and gallery.Lee Tintary was invited to exhibit his photographs on the freshly painted walls. Pedersen Projects presented "Urban Iconography" and the art of Shark Toof with a collection of pop imagery with a urban edge. Ink'd Chronicles and PUSH joined forces to hold a tattoo fashion show on 2nd St. complete with a catwalk, bands and a dj. The event was held as an annual fundraiser for breast cancer. At Bunny Gunner, we were please to exhibit the art of Karen Green. She had a great crowd come through all enjoyed her pieces and asking questions about her technique. As annual tradition, the dA Gallery exhibited "Nacio en Aztlan" or it's yearly Chicano influenced art show. The exhibition included work from various artists all over Southern California, a Mariachi and even some Aztec Dancers in full costume. Metro Gallery featured the art of Steve Ruiz with his "Sense of Community" paintings. I was able to take a short stroll outside and noticed who much the art walk has grown. There were crowds of people all over the entire colony, listening to live music, people watching, looking at art or just hanging out. It has been a busy season and promises to continue on through the year, see you at the end of the month for last Saturday Art Walk October 30th.
Photo credits: Jill Carol, Richard Nunez, Kirk Pedersen, Susie and Juan Thorp
Slide show follows:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Two Nights of September Art Walk

It was not your typical art weekend for Pomona this September. Things started off a day early with 3 receptions being held on Friday the day before art walk. These special openings were a part of what I like to call, "Roland's Weekend". Things kicked off around 5pm with the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony for Andi Campognone Projects at their new location at the Downtown Center. Just and hour later, it was the opening reception for "Roland Reiss, Selections from the 1960's". This was accompanied with a huge gathering of former CGU Alumni and the announcement of the "surprise show" in honor of Roland being held at our Bunny Gunner Gallery. "For Roland" is a group show of 45 years of Claremont Graduate School (CGU) Alumni who each created a work of art for Roland. The gallery is full with 256 pieces being sent from all over the world, as far away as Turkey. Come see the show, it's up for a month. Another 3 CGU Alumni, by coincidence, happens to be showing the same night at Pedersen Projects. Kirk Pedersen opened his doors on Friday night to welcome all the guests that came out for the two "Roland Night" events. Friday? you say, what about 2nd Satruday? Well, round two it was, with even more people out enjoying Friday's 3 shows along with the 40 other galleries' events. The dA opened with their "Out of the Woods" exhibit featuring all art created from wood. SCA Gallery presented a Cal Sate Fullerton group show. dba256 brought in an artist with "Liquid Abstraction". Metro Gallery featured the art of R.T. Pece with his "Enhanced Film Stills". Besides the mentions, there were numerous other opening that info can be found for on So with so much going on in September, be sure to come and be part of it.
photo credits: Jill Carol, Richard Nunez, Kirk Pedersen, Denis Thorp and Bunny Gunner

Monday, September 6, 2010

Our Friend Patrick Merrill Has Passed

Patrick Merrill was an artist, master printer, curator, loving husband and friend. Merrill was a practicing artist and had been exhibiting since 1972. He was best known for work in two printmaking media: dramatic large-scale black and white woodcuts and densely colored intaglio and relief prints. Although in the early years he occasionally did abstract art, his mature work focused on the figure. He was concerned with psychology and politics, and developed the intersection between the two. As noted in the upcoming book, he often employed religious iconography to convey secular themes. He has had numerous solo exhibitions and was included in significant group shows in both national and international galleries and museums. In addition to a large number of private collections Merrill’s art is included in the permanent collections of regional, national and international art institutions.

Born in Toronto Canada in 1948, he immigrated to the United States in 1958 with his family. As a teenager he attended seminary school for three years in Santa Barbara with the intention of becoming a Catholic priest but the seminarians soon recognized that his true calling was art. He served in the United States Air Force and was stationed in Vietnam from 1970-1971. He attended Golden West College and graduated in 1976, Magna Cum Laude from Long Beach State University where he specialized in printmaking.

After graduation he worked in various printmaking businesses developing the skills to start his own fine art printing business. In 1981 Merrill establishedPat Merrill Fine Art Prints” in downtown Long Beach and over the years relocated and expanded the business three times, moving to Garden Grove, Montclair and finally Covina. It was a fully equipped printmaking facility specializing in etchings, woodcuts, collographs and monoprints. Merrill made prints with professional artists as well as emerging artists; he also developed commercial prints for a national distributor. In his last years he enjoyed doing focused print workshops. Merrill loved to use new printmaking techniques and developed a process with master ceramicist Stephen Horn by which paper lithography could be used to print oxides directly to the clay before firing resulting in a beautiful integration of the two mediums. Merrill was also a respected member of the Los Angeles Printmaking society winning the Foundation Award for one of his large woodcuts in their 2009 national exhibition.

1981 was also the first year of his sobriety from substance abuse that began during the 1960s but was exasperated by his need to self-medicate after the trauma of the Vietnam War. His struggle to recover became a major topic of his work in the 1980s and into the 1990s. He maintained his sobriety until four months before his death, and despite the need to suppress the pain of the cancer it was intensely difficult for Merrill to return to drugs.

Merrill attended California State University Fullerton from 1991-94 where he completed his Masters in Fine Arts degree. Patrick married Debra R. Winters in 1996, an art historian and staff member at California State University Fullerton. They researched many projects together, traveled whenever possible, went to many art exhibitions, and enjoyed spending time with their family and friends. They lived in joy in Diamond Bar.

He served as the Publicity and Exhibition Director for the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art from 1990 to 2000. During these years Merrill curated over 40 exhibitions both inside and outside the Center. He was instrumental in the expansion of the center to a 6600 sq ft in the Artist’s Village in downtown Santa Ana. In 1997 Merrill added to his responsibilities when he accepted the position of Director and Curator for the W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery at California Polytechnic University Pomona. While at the Kellogg Art Gallery, Merrill developed the annual competition, Ink & Clay, from a local to a major national competition. Purchase and cash awards were increased and the exhibitions were documented with virtual Web catalogs. Among the many exhibitions he curated until 2009 were those that were curated around cultural and social issues such as Fragmented Bodies, Cultural Critics and Represent. He also brought contemporary Chinese art to the Inland Empire before Chinese art became trendy. He collaborated with co-curators on many exhibitions such as Ephemeral and Accretion. East in Eden was an NEA funded exhibition and examined and interpreted the Pomona Valley through the eyes of 24 contemporary artists. Merrill also curated exhibitions of the functional arts such as design, furniture and quilts. He supported special exhibitions on campus such as those of the Windows between Worlds organization. While he was director the gallery doubled its size and received two major bequests.

Merrill was a long time supporter of grass-roots organizations and was well known for his institutional volunteerism as well as his willingness to help individuals. He helped to organize the T.H. Pendergast California Parole Museum and curated all the exhibitions from 2001 to 2010. Patrick believed in the possibility of change that is a fundamental aspect of the rehabilitation that parole fosters. The most significant was a meticulously researched exhibit on the First 100 Years of Parole that was installed both at the museum and in the public hallways in front of the Governor’s office. Merrill was also a consulting curator since 2005 for the OT Gallery in Old Town Tustin that focused on artist’s prints.

After his diagnosis with stage IV cancer friends Garland Kirkpatrick and Jade Jewett proposed a book chronically his art. Artists and writers Suvan Geer, Sheila Pinkel, John O’Brien and art historians Joanna Roche, Ruth Capelle and Debra Winters contributed essays. Hundreds of family, friends and artists made gifts to the printing fund and it started to become clear just how many people’s lives that Patrick had touched. The downtown Pomona arts community organized an auction/ birthday party supporting the book in December 2009. The last year and a half of Patrick’s life was hard because of his illness as well as the effects radiation and chemotherapy; however, the time was also rich as he watched the book project progress. He was able to visit with many friends and family during this time, some of who helped him with the inventory, organization and storage of his remaining artwork. He made new friends among his care giving staff during his treatment by the Southern California Kaiser group. He succumbed to colon cancer on August 31st 2010, sadly before the opening of two major solo exhibitions at the College of the Canyons (opening October 24th) and Cal State Fullerton’s Begovich Gallery (opening October 30th). The College of the Canyons exhibition, Conjunction: intaglio & relief, will feature Patrick’s rich intaglio and relief prints that he produced starting in the late 1980s until the end of his life. The CSU Fullerton exhibition, Patrick Merrill: revelation, will focus on the monumental prints in the apocalypse series, which he is well known for and that he started in the year 2004 and continued thru 2009. His last print the Alpha and Omega diptych was finished just one week before his death will be unveiled at this exhibition. The title of the upcoming book is also Patrick Merrill: revelation however the material covered is more representative of his entire life’s work.

He is survived by his wife Debra R. Winters, as well as his parents Edward and Genevieve Merrill of Washington State, three brothers Michael Merrill of Long Beach, Doug Merrill of Driggs, Idaho, Danny Merrill and sister Christine Williams of Enumclaw Washington.

A memorial will be organized in conjunction with the CSU Fullerton exhibition and will be open to the public. At this time no information is available on its exact location nor the time.

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never ever the same.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Please Vote for Tara!

Tara Tavi is a Pomona Unified Kindergarten teacher, resident of Lincoln Park and long time local artist and musician. Local hairstylist Cherie Savoie of Savoie salon in downtown Pomona suggested while she was doing her hair that she should try to be on the TV show Mad Men. She styled her hair into a little bouffant and took tons of pics of her w/ Bunny Gunner's camera in 60's dresses. Here's some of them- In August, she signed up to be in a contest by AMC to get voted onto the TV show Mad Men. Tara is now placed at #83 of female candidates. She just need to get into the top 10 by Sept. 17th to be considered for the role. We were hoping that maybe she could get some local support! People can vote once per day per computer or Smartphone. Here is the link...

Thank you for your support,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bunny Gunner Celebrates 3rd Anniversary

Well, here we are, it's been three years since we decided to open a small business known as Bunny Gunner. And what a great ride it has been! To bring it all to a culmination, we celebrated Bunny Gunner's 3rd birthday with a massive group show called "We All Scream". Taking from the famous saying, this show features about 100 artists all creating art with the theme "ice cream". 2nd Saturday was the opening of the show and it was a great reception with a packed house all night. If you missed it, please stop by during the week or on Last Saturday for our second reception (July 31st, 6pm - 11pm).
Also in July, Bunny Gunner is having a very special reception during our Pomona Chamber of Commerce
Mixer. This event will be held on Thursday, July 15th from 5-8pm. All are welcome to attend and are encouraged to dress in casual beach wear. Hawaiian shirts, flip flops, shorts and tikki attire are hip. We will provide some snacks and drinks.
After 3 years, we are excited about all the things we have done and are planning for the future. Thank you to all the artists who show in our gallery and everyone who has supported us for the last 3 years because without you, there would be no
Bunny Gunner.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pomona Arts Colony June Artwalk 2010

It was second Saturday again and it was a great night. Starting down at the west end, Foggy Windows Gallery had an eighty's cartoon art show with band playing. AC Projects showed the work of Tom Pathe, Whitney Hanlon, Michael Woodcock and others. Blue Core had the mosaic art of Cathy Garcia and I heard she sold a few too. Closer to home, Ink'd Chronicles had their annual "Every tattoo has a story" photography show and benefit. We at Bunny Gunner had a solo show for Jay Merryweather with his paintings and sculptures. SCA had a Lansdcape group show curated by Bob Pece that was reviewed in the IE Weekly. As a new addition to the galleries, La Bomba Vintage featured the works of Leia Steingart. The dA Center for the Arts pulled out all the stops by painting all the gallery walls black, blocking out the windows and lighting the entire space with black lights. All the art was painted in luminescent paint and glowed brightly. In the basement there was also whole room painted out in glowing color.
Slideshow follows and video to follow:
Video Credit: Linda Allen, Ed Pruitt
Photo credit: Jill Carol, Richard Nunez, Denis Thorp, Susie and Juan Thorp

Monday, May 3, 2010

Busy Weekend filled with great art and good friends

What a busy weekend!

It all started on Friday with a benefit for our beloved friend Richard Godfrey who had a severe fall and has been in the in the hospital for 6 weeks. Last we heard over $17,000 + was raised for him from a silent auction where artists donated works of art. 80 works of art from some of the best artist in Southern Ca. were on display and this included Pomona artists, A.S. Ashley, Fr. Bill Moore, Me (Juan Thorp), and Karen Karlsson. It was a good evening and a great chance to help our friends, Richard and his wife Annette. Thanks to everyone who participated!

The next morning was also a bit of help, but this time for the city of Pomona. It was "Team up to clean up Pomona" day and we did just that. Seven of us from the Colony met at Bunny Gunner for some coffee and donuts, then off to clean with bags and gloves. First on the clean up list was "Lake Pomona" and boy was it a mess. We continued until noon collecting lots of cigarette buts, flyers and some unmentionables. After the clean up, Lincoln Community Church provided a BBQ for all the volunteers at the Fairplex. Yum!

Our day was not over yet. Off to
Torrance Art Museum for an excellent show Set Theory: Roland Reiss Curated by Max Presneill with top artists including Roland Reiss, Lisa Adams, Dean DeCocker, Michael Salerno, and our next months artist, Kristi Lippire, to name a few. The show boasted great large scale works from these's a must see!

Getting back on the OC freeways, we headed to Santa Ana's first Saturday artwalk, first stopping by at OCCCA. A.S. Ashley made to billing with his signature "Venus" piece hung front and center in the gallery. Peter Frank juried this wonderful exhibition featuring great works from artist all over, even as far as Denmark. Just down the street,
Grand Central Art Center featured great exhibits with extremely talented artists. The main room had the work of Laurie Lipton who created very intricate, detailed graphite drawings on paper. Subjects included a whole apartment building of faces looking on with undisturbed expressions as a woman is mugged and stabbed. Another features a smiling 50's dressed woman turning on a very intricate machine, as if somehow igniting some horrible doomsday device. In the project room, artist Christopher Ulrich created very large scale demon figures in very bright and comic like style. The demons ranged from self devouring human squids to baby doll headed, club wielding video game bosses.

Sunday evening we were back on the other side of SoCal, visiting the
Robert Dowd exhibit opening at CCAA Museum of Art in Rancho Cucamonga. Curated by Cheryl Bookout, this exhibit features "Money" pieces from the collection of Joan and Jack Quinn. Works include paintings of the the Treasury building on fire, Picasso on a dollar bill, and cut up depictions of American currency. It was a great 1960's Pop Art exhibit you have to check out.

All in all, it was a great and busy weekend for art and trash pick up. No brake here, next weekend is Second Saturday.
Slideshow to follow:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Taste of Pomona

The Taste of Pomona was a real success!

Tonight was the 6th annual Taste of the Pomona Valley held by the Pomona Chamber of Commerce. It was our 3rd year of having a Bunny Gunner booth and the most successful.
There were lots of restaurants in attendance all giving the crowd a sampling of their best foods. Tony's Famous French Dip was a favorite with their sandwiches and potato salad sampling as was the Finish Line with their tasty little tacos.
Other notables were the Coco Palm serving up some paella , beef wellington by the Sheraton's own McKinley Grill and
JT Schmid's Brewery keeping us happy with their IPA's. But the best food of the night would have to be the pot roast served on rice by Euro Cafe. For dinning entertainment, the music was great with a band of Mariachis and some Blues singers. To top it all off, we won three out of the 12 prizes in the raffle! Wine, cheese, snacks and gift certificates, wow, I was worried someone would think it was fixed! Thanks to Frank Garcia and everyone at the Pomona Chamber of Commerce for making this another successful event!

We'll see you next year.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pomona April Artwalk 2010

Second Saturday came fast this month, but we were ready. At Bunny Gunner we had on display the work of Kent Anderson Butler. He had a great opening with lots of people coming to see his new body of work "Embodied Fusion". Lots of students from Azusa Pacific University were in attendance there to support Kent who teaches at the school. Others stopped by and asked questions about the process and intention of the work. I didn't get a chance to go out anywhere else, but I heard "We Are Abstract" show at SCA went really well. DBA256 had the work of a competition winner from an Ovation TV art contest. The dA had their annual CGU exhibit which never ceases to be amazing. Blue Core featured a new show by two artist one of them Cindy Rinne. AC Projects had their second showing of "Curiosities of the Curio" and Pedersen Projects had the work of Jaime Jimenez and Jophen Stein who are both amazingly skilled painters.
Besides that, there were lots of other exciting things going on all over the colony. 35 plus galleries and growing, what would you expect?
photo by Ren, Jill Carol and Susie Thorp:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

We got Married!

You may have noticed, we haven't posted anything in a while. Well if you don't know, we have been really busy. To start, we had ALL U CAN EAT in February, our biggest art show of the year. One week after that we got married at the Fox Theater then a week later was the last Saturday Art reception.
Early March we did another art opening of Arturo Loya's painitngs then left for our Honeymoon the very next morning. Well, we got back from Savannah this week and are trying to catch up where we left off. We'll be posting new fun things as soon as we get back on our feet. Thanks for you patience....
We would like to share photos from our wedding and trip to Savannah...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

February Artwalk 2010

Last night was the opening for our annual ALL U CAN EAT art show at Bunny Gunner. What a night it was, we had a huge turnout of people with times where you couldn't walk in the door. All the artists were happy and their collectors even more. Great sales due to the affordable prices with some artists selling out. Total pieces topped 114 with Fr. Bill alone selling 19 and Manuel Ortega doing really well with six of seven selling, and Jophen Stein selling all five of his little chess piece foxes. We had plenty of good snacks and beer with both seeming to disappear as soon as it went out. It was a fun night with good people, if you missed it come down to our place and you'll find there are still lots of great pieces available.

Slideshow to follow:
photos by Ren, Jill Carol, Delaine Ureno and us :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January Artwalk 2010

Probably one of the greatest art walks ever! Perfect weather, new galleries and group shows helped bring crowds of people out to enjoy the art. The dA had two amazing shows one titled "The New Traditionalists" and the other "In Front of the Real Thing". They have reconfigured the gallery by adding a new show wall and building a stage in the main gallery. This allowed for more prime wall space with was used well to exhibit great paintings and drawings by the artists. We at Bunny Gunner have a two man show titled "Muse Cruise". Our artists Brent Harada and Rusty Jordan made about 80 collaborative drawings that hung together in a huge grouping. SCA Project Gallery had their annual "Works on Paper" show which brought lots of people down to see and buy art. AC Projects had their "Organic Line" show which is a group of amazing artists all working in abstact linear form. Pedersen Projects and OBJCT Gallery also had new show adding to the excitement. Blue Core Gallery invited artist Norma Tanega to showcase her paintings. And on that same block, and across the street there were other galleries going late to keep the crowds happy. Over all good spirit was in the air, and this made a great art walk to start of the new decade. photo credits: Jill Carol, Richard Nunez, Kirk Pedersen, Susie Eaton and Juan Thorp
slideshow follows:

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Fr. Bill is in the News

Our Good friend Fr. Bill Moore SS. CC. has made it into the news. From what I hear this article has been published all over the US. We are very proud of Fr. Bill and wish him much luck in 2010.

Artist priest finds God in abstract expressionism
By JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press Writer

POMONA, Calif. — There's no steeple out front, no rows of pews inside, not even so much as a crucifix on display.

Still, this cramped little art studio in the middle of what, until not very long ago, was a street with as many broken dreams as it has potholes, is the closest thing to paradise Father Bill Moore has found. It's the place where the 60-year-old Catholic priest serves God by creating abstract paintings that he sells by the hundreds.

No ordinary preacher, Father Bill, as he's known throughout Pomona's fledgling arts district, long ago discarded his clerical collar in favor of a painter's smock. Only on Sundays does he trade it for holy vestments to deliver Mass at a local church or one of several detention facilities for youthful offenders.

All other times Moore is head of the Ministry of the Arts for the West Coast branch of his religious order, the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. His job is to serve God by painting whatever comes to mind.

"That's Bill's gift, his talent, and we have to support that," says Father Donal McCarthy, who is the order's West Coast provincial and Moore's superior. "When you've got a creative person, you shouldn't stifle that creativity."

Leaders of the order, founded more than 200 years ago in France, know of no other member whose only mission has been to paint. But then Moore, a child of the '60s who can quote the words of Jim Morrison, Bruce Springsteen and Jesus Christ with equal facility, has been a barrier-breaker since he ignored his provincial's order his freshman year of college to study either philosophy or theology. He majored in art instead.

"The next year, a letter came from the provincial saying all the students are now encouraged to major in subjects of their choice. I thought that was very cool," Moore recalls with a smile as he sits in the lobby of his modest studio sipping coffee. A copy of underground comic-book artist R. Crumb's "The Book of Genesis" sits on the coffee table and works by Japanese artist Kazumi Tanaka (a personal favorite) are displayed here and there.

Since early childhood, Moore says, he knew he had the calling - to be a painter. The call to be a priest came later.

"I was doing little abstract paintings when I was a little boy, like around 8, 9 years old," Moore recalls.

"My grandmother would just think they were the greatest things," he continues with a laugh. "The rest of the members of my family, they were, ahh, kind of more like art critics."

Not that the art world has been all that harsh on him. Moore's works, which are often compared to those of abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, sell for more than $5,000 apiece, and he has been the subject of frequent shows at galleries throughout the Southwest. Any profits he makes from those shows go directly to his order.

"His work, as abstract as it is, has a definite spiritual quality to it," says Fenton Moore, who is curating a Moore exhibition that opened Dec. 24 at the Galerie Zuger in Santa Fe, N.M. "It could be that it comes more from his heart than what you feel from other abstract artists. Or it could also be because he's just a very religious person."

Although he once worked in a realistic style, doing figures and landscapes, Moore decided a dozen years ago that abstract expressionism would be his language.

That has caused some consternation among his order, like the time he was commissioned to do the stained-glass windows for St. Anne's Church in Kaneohe, Hawaii, and proposed a series of abstract works.

"The pastor there said, 'That's not going to happen,'" Moore recalled with a laugh. So he reverted to a traditional style for that work, as he did for a recent commissioned painting of Father Damien, patron saint of Hawaii, who was a member of Moore's order when he went to live among the lepers of Hawaii's Molokai island in the 1800s.

But when he works in his studio, Moore approaches each new project with no specific plan. Working with acrylic paints, he lets his ideas flow spontaneously onto canvas, then adds bits of metal, glass or other discarded, seemingly worthless materials to each painting. They represent redemption, a central theme in his order's belief that God's love is unconditional.

It's that approach, combined with his intricate brush skills, that makes his art so appealing, says fellow painter A.S. Ashley.

"I think the hard contrasts between the light areas and the colored fields are very striking and they draw you in," Ashley says. "And then, as you get closer, you see not only the textures but also some of the intimate details that exist within them."

Moore, who was ordained in 1975, spent much of his career as a traditional Catholic priest who happened to paint. That changed in 1998 when his superiors created the Ministry of the Arts.

Soon he had moved into a studio in a century-old building in this hardscrabble town 30 miles east of Los Angeles. He secluded himself in a rundown industrial neighborhood that was just beginning to reinvent itself as an arts district.

He still lives there, with his cat, in a cramped loft behind his work space. For entertainment he occasionally tunes in an ancient TV that requires hanging a coat hanger on its rabbit-ear antenna to pull in a local news channel.

But he doesn't mind.

"I don't know what it is to be really wealthy, but I feel so rich," he says, rubbing his hands together enthusiastically. "I get up in the morning and I do what I love to do."


Father Bill Moore:

Galerie Zuger:

The Associated Press