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New Ground: Kristin Moore

Place-driven painter Kristin Moore sets her sights on the beauty of the Big Easy


Kristin Moore now has a new category to add to her portfolio of place-driven works. For her latest paintings, she has expanded her geographical reach beyond California, Texas and Nevada to zoom in on New Orleans, and its captivating architecture, history, lush landscapes and air of mystery. 


Moore found inspiration for her paintings of the American West during the many long drives between Los Angeles and her home state of Texas during graduate school. "A lot of it stems from wanderlust, nostalgia and the like," says Moore. "Decompressing between semesters, I'd stop in places like Marfa. Take in the cities from a distance-taking in a place from a car or airplane window feels safe somehow. It's kind of becoming my habit of how I see the world and I incorporate that perspective into my paintings." 


Growing up in Houston on the Gulf Coast, New Orleans was only a five hour drive away so the city has always been near and dear to her, and now more than ever. 


"I'm really almost writing a love letter to New Orleans," she says, adding that now that she is represented by Ferrara Showman Gallery, she has plenty of reasons to visit. The gallery is hosting an exhibition of Moore's Big Easy-inspired pieces from April 10 through May 25 titled Through the Bayou, Into the Garden. "There's a different energy there ... it feels like you're in a European city within the United States. There's a ton of history and a lot of layers-I wanted to highlight the elements of New Orleans that I really enjoy." 


Iconic street scenes, ornate historic homes, eternal live oaks, bald cypress, even graveyards, have replaced the vast, sunset soaked skies and wide open spaces that dominate Moore's depictions of the West. Shifting her focus to the Southeast, where the environment is choked with foliage and the imprint of humanity is more prevalent, presented exciting challenges that have helped her grow as an artist. 


"New Orleans is so close together and cramped," she says. "There aren't any overlook opportunities or a ton of the open space that people are used to seeing in my paintings. Most people explore it on foot, so I embraced that point of view. Some of the paintings came to fruition quickly and just flowed while others have really taken some time," Moore adds. "I'm challenging myself with new subject matter and retraining my artistic eye to frame things in a way that it's aesthetically pleasing but without losing track of what I really want to convey." 


In some pieces, Moore relied on the dense foliage to frame the central subject in her compositions, a technique especially effective in her series focused on the iconic homes of the Garden District. Curling into the edges of the frame, we feel we are on the walking tour of the neighborhood with her, a voyeuristic tourist hoping for a glimpse behind a beautiful-but ultimately impenetrable-façade. 


"I think there's an aura of History to, most of the locations I depict," says Moore. "There's a timeless element to them. Humans have flocked there long before I was around and will for long after. There is a common appreciation for these places-they have a legacy, a history that drives my interest and that of others. 


"A lot of people do connect with my work," Moore continues. And I'm so grateful and lucky that they do. Most people have looked out a window. Or taken a road trip. I have my vision and my story that I want to tell but after it goes into a gallery or a home it becomes part of their story-and that's how it keeps living." 


An opening reception will be held on Saturday, May 4 from 5 to 9 p.m., during 4 the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.