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New York, Sunday, April 10, 1994

by Lynne Ames

Some critics have called Moser a major artist, comparing his work to that of Goya and Francis Bacon and the masters of the Renaissance. He has exhibited his paintings - which combine elements of Classical composition with Expressionism - throughout the United States and has traveled worldwide.

Now the artist has returned to where it all began, where he was born, grew up and put brush to canvas. Moser is back in Scarsdale, he said, “to retrace the tracks and trails I took as a child” and to work on his most ambitious series of paintings.

“Before one embarks on a significant journey, it is wise to return to the beginning, to understand your strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “This provides surer footing along the way and in turn changes stumbling blocks to stepping stones.”

Moser’s roots to his hometown run deep. His mother, Margaret, and his father, Carl, still live in Scarsdale. Some of Mrs. Moser’s ancestors settled there in the 1800’s and became prominent citizens; one of his great-great-great aunts, Anna McNeill Whistler, also lived there and was the mother of James McNeill Whistler. Mr. Moser’s parents lived there, too, on Thornbury Road.

Kindred Spirits

Indeed, it was Frieda, Moser’s maternal grandmother, who may have been the biggest influence on the artist. Although she died at 93 last Nov. 2, - “All Soul’s Day,” Moser observed - she remains a major presence in his esthetic and psychological life. It is her face that appears in a powerful, allegorical painting, “There Was No Grass on the Other Side,” which some critics have called his masterpiece, and it is her spirit that informs much of his work.

“My grandmother had eyes that danced,” he recalled. “She was creative, perceptive, whimsical, witty. She saw the dark side, the sad side, of life, but she also brought a light to things that I try to capture in my paintings; we were, I think, kindred spirits.”

Moser began painting as a child - his grandmother Frieda and his parents encouraged his efforts from the start - and when he was 10, started studying with the Pop artist Robert Indiana in the Scarsdale Studio Workshop. After graduating from Scarsdale High School, he went to Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and the Croydon College of Art in London.

In the early 1980’s, while living in Manhattan, he started working in Art Deco, a style he would later reject. His precisely rendered paintings and prints won him widespread critical acclaim and financial backing. In 1984, his first solo exhibition at the Dyansen Gallery in Manhattan was sold out before it officially opened, establishing an immediate waiting list for all future works.

Time to Start Over

Instead of reveling in his success, however, he began to feel confined by it, to feel trapped by demands to keep turning out paintings he no longer felt came from within. “My agents and promoters were grooming me to be the next Erté,” he said, referring to the Russian-born master of Art Deco, who died in 1990 at age 97. “I was making lots of money, I was being squired around in limousines in New York, being flown to LA, going to parties with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson. But I wasn’t being true to myself as an artist or as a person.”

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