Reply to "AIDS turns 20"

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Artist and activist Frank Moore dies......

Artist and activist Frank Moore died on Sunday, April 21, at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan. He was 48. The cause of Moore's death was complications from AIDS, which he had been living with for 17 years.

Moore was born in New York City in 1953. He grew up on Long Island and summered in the Adirondacks, two places that eventually helped shape his views on art, the environment, and ecology. He graduated from Yale in 1975 with a bachelor of arts, spending his senior year as one of 12 students selected to study a field of their choice as graduate students. Moore's choice, of course, was art.

Moore had his first solo show in 1983 at the Clocktower in Tribeca. At that time, however, his artistic focus had switched to theatre, designing sets and costumes for choreographer Jim Self and working on several dance film projects. "Beehive," a film shot in Moore's loft-turned-film-set, won a Bessie in 1985. With the financial independence this work had brought him, he returned to the studio in the late 1980s.

Though he was a painter, and usually of large canvases, Moore's most recognizable work is the small red AIDS ribbon, which he, as a member of the Visual AIDS Artist Caucus, helped create. The caucus chose red because of the "connection to blood and the idea of passion-not only anger, but love, like a valentine," according to Visual AIDS materials.

Drawing from a wide array of influences which included Social Realism, Magical Realism, the Hudson River School and the murals created by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moore's works, too, are laden with meaning. "Niagara," for example, depicts the majestic falls and the mist it creates. Adding a bit of magic to an otherwise realistic canvas, Moore allows viewers, as if they are looking through a microscope, to see the chemical compounds of the pollutants we have introduced to those waters.

Genetic engineering and the dangers it presents are also subjects Moore depicted many times. And not surprisingly, AIDS and the medical and societal responses to it were subjects for Moore. "Beacon" shows the artist on a hospital bed adrift in an ocean, syringes, IVs, and other medical implements float about him. In the distance, a lighthouse shines a ray of light made up of a DNA strand, a common motif in his work.

Moore traced his skepticism about science, technology, and progress to an education he received by simply observing the world around him. As a child, he visited the pristine Adirondacks. Over time, he noticed changes in the ecosystem and the destruction of the environment. He made similar observations of the depletion of the scallop stock and eelgrass near his home on Long Island.

"That had a big impact on my view of the human role in the interaction with nature," he said in an interview in the April-May 2002 "Update" newsletter produced by the New York Academy of Sciences.

Despite that, Moore was well aware that it was man's tinkering with nature that produced the drugs that prolonged his life.

People who knew Moore comment on his ability to be both straightforward and opinionated, yet able to rally people around his point of view. In his paintings, instead of beating viewers over the head with his messages, Moore helped people draw their own conclusions.

"I see myself as providing a visual form for people to reflect on what their relationship with nature is and how they feel about such issues as genetic engineering, our use of chemicals and fossil fuels, pollution and our relationship to technology," he said in the "Update" interview.

Yet, Moore was an activist. With the anger he had over the way his AIDS-afflicted lover was being treated in the early-1990s, he was a ripe candidate for ACT UP. Though he certainly felt angry enough to join, ACT UP was not the place for him. "The sixties made me," he told an interviewer. "I'm into flower power. ACT UP was not about flower power."

Visual AIDS, the art-oriented wing of ACT UP, seemed much more suitable to the artist. Apart from his contributions to the Red Ribbon Project, Moore also founded The Archives Project in 1994 to catalog and safeguard the cultural contributions of artists with AIDS. Moore also co-curated "A

Living Testament to the Blood Fairies" with Sur Rodney Sur and Geoffrey Hendricks in 1997, a show hailed for its ambition.

Moore leaves his lover Patrick Orton of New York, two sisters, two brothers, his stepmother, a body of striking art, the red ribbon, and a legacy, the Gesso Foundation an organization to support artists with AIDS and small AIDS organizations.

STEPHEN DOMINIC D'AGOSTINO/NY Blade

**His paintings are truly amazing!-RR

[This message was edited by Rose Royalle on 05-07-02 at 04:16 AM.]
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