Skip to main content

Oral history interview with Tobey C. Moss, 2013 September 12

Moss, Tobey C., 1928-



Collection Information

Size: 4 sound files (2 hrs., 32 min.), digital, wav; 59 Pages, Transcript

Summary: An interview of Tobey C. Moss, conducted 2013 September 12, by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, for the Archives of American Art at Moss' Gallery in Los Angeles, California.
Moss speaks of growing up in Chicago and moving to Los Angeles to attend UCLA; meeting and marrying her husband, Allen; serving as docent at the LA County Museum of Art; working for Zeitlin & Ver Brugge and then later Stephen White Gallery of Photography; opening her art gallery, Tobey C. Moss Gallery in 1979; her connection and relationships to many of the artists she displayed in her gallery.

Biographical/Historical Note

Interviewee Tobey C. Moss (1928- ) is an art dealer in Los Angeles, California. Interviewer Hunter Drohojowska-Philp is an art critic and writer from Beverly Hills, California.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Language Note

English .



The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Tobey Moss on September 12, 2013. The interview took place in Los Angeles, California, and was conducted by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Tobey Moss and Hunter Drohojowska-Philp reviewed the transcript in 2019. Their corrections and emendations appear below in brackets with initials. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  This is Hunter Drohojowska-Philp interviewing Tobey Moss at the art dealer's uh, gallery in Los Angeles, California on September 12, 2013 for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, card number one.

Tobey, we've spent some time trying to get together to do this. And I'm happy we finally have made it. Just the easiest way for us to proceed is to begin at the beginning.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Tell me about you. Where were you born and when?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I was born in Chicago. June 1, 1928. Do you want my hospital and my—[laughs]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Not quite that much. Did you say June 21st?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  June 1st.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  June 1st, 1928. And what did your parents do?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  My mother was a homemaker.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  What were your parents' names?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Uh, my mother and father's names?


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Tillie and Irving Chroman.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  How do you spell that?


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  C-H-R-O-M-A-N. And uh, what did they do? So your mother was a homemaker.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Before she was a homemaker, she was a top secretary.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Private secretary. And my father had various—I mean he was everything from a tailor, to a candy maker, to a dry goods store owner, to a property manager.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And his last name was Moss?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Chroman.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Oh, his last name was Chroman. I'm sorry. Of course. [Laughs.] Tillie and Irving Chroman. C-H-R-O-M-A-N.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And uh, what was your mother's maiden name? [00:02:00]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Levinson.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  That's right.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Okay. So here you are in Chicago and your father has these jobs. And your mother was a top secretary. And—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, she wasn't while she—when she was married she was a homemaker.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And then was she a top secretary before or after?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, yes. No. Before.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Never after.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So she raised you. Do you have siblings?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Three children. Three girls.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And uh, what are your two sisters' names?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Uh, Roselyne and Miriam.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Can you spell the first one?



TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].



HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Okay. And where are you in this line-up?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Where what?


TOBEY C. MOSS:  I'm the eldest.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You're the eldest. Okay. Did anyone in your family have any interest in art?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mmm, no. We did—let's put it this way. We had no financial ability to acquire art of any kind. Uh, I believe there was a beautiful reproduction of Big Red Poppies in the dining room. That's about all I can remember growing up. And um, I can't remember any involvement with art at all. We, of course, went to museums. My mother took us to uh, light opera, to plays. Um, I had a scholarship for a sketch class for—at the Art Institute in Chicago. Uh, were very aware of the [aesthetic –TM] values of art in many forms. Theater, opera, art, uh, visual art.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Was this primarily an interest of your mother's?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. [00:04:00]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  More than your father.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Okay. And uh, where did you go to school?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  In Chicago?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Shakespeare Grammar School, Hyde Park High School.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Okay, Shakespeare Grammar School.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And Hyde Park High School. And then the University of Illinois.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Hang on. I'm catching up with you here. Hyde Park High School. And then University of Illinois. What part of Chicago did you live?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Uh, South Side.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And uh, in fact—and you went to the University of Illinois.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I went there for one year until we moved to Los Angeles. And then I transferred to UCLA.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what year was that?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Nineteen-forty—uh, the move?


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Was '46.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And that meant—so your whole family came out here.



TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, the weather.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  The weather. Pure and simple.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what did your parents do once they got out here?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, he was uh, very much interested in property management. He was in real estate.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. So you came out and uh, and where did you live when you moved out here?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  The same house I'm living in now.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes, really.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  That's so funny. So the house you live in now is the house your father bought?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And that is—I don't have it in front of me. So that is on uh, Alta Vista?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Very close to here, right?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. Around the corner.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  How funny. So your parents were living in the Alta Vista house with you. Did your two siblings come with you?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Okay. And so you went to UCLA. And what did you study at UCLA?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Uh, history and education.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And did you get a degree?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. Well, I got an AA. I did not finish my bachelor's. [00:06:00]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what did you with that AA?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  What did I do with it?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Nothing. I went to uh—Allen and I became engaged.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Did you meet Allen at um, UCLA?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. I met him at high school.



HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Oh. So you come out here. You've met Allen in Chicago. And uh—and how did he happen to get engaged to you once you got out here?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, we were romantic in high school. And um, simply things proceeded along.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, so did he move out here from Chicago?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Uh, well, not until we were married. He—I actually moved back there for a year and lived with my aunt and uncle.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And I was a secretary.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  What year was that?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Nineteen-forty-eight, 1948. Yeah. The end of the—in September of '48. And then in June of '49—uh, July of '49 we got married.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And uh, during that time, you were working as a secretary?


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what was Allen doing?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Allen was uh, let's see. He finished um, IIT. And he was working—


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Illinois Institute of Technology.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  —as an engineer. And he was working in the um, electronics field, electric—as an electrical engineer.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And you're in Chicago. He's working as an electrical engineer and uh, you're there in 1949. And then what happened?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, we got married. We were both working. [00:08:00] And had a little apartment. And um, then in 1951, we had our first son. And my mother was dying and I came back to California to be with her.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Yeah. What's your first son's name?

[. . . –TM]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  David.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And um, I never went back to Chicago. Allen moved us—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So your mother was ill and you came out here.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  In the last couple of months. Yeah. With a newborn.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Your mother passed away and you decided not to go back to Chicago.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Right. And Allen agreed, thank goodness. [Laughs.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  By the way, could you tell me Allen's full name?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Allen S[tuart –TM] Moss.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Allen S. Moss. And then what happened? So now you're in California. It's 1951.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. I'm in California with a baby. And I lived at home in the same house. One of my sisters was already married. In fact, both of the sisters I think were married. The younger one also. And we kept house with my father until my father uh, moved out about, oh, about three years later, after the second child was born. And um, and we just lived in the house ever since. [00:10:00]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  [Laughs.] Wonderful. And then what happened? Did you—you had another child?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I have three boys. Yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And what are other two's names?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Kenneth and Howard.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And so you're raising three boys.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And at what point do you decide it's time to go into the art world?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, I didn't. I'm not—I was never an art history—and I appreciated art and uh, we began to walk on Monday nights on La Cienega. I enjoyed that mightily. And we always went to museums.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You mean when all the galleries were open on La Cienega. You would visit the galleries.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  That's right. On Monday nights, the galleries were open.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Were you here then?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I wasn't, but I know about it.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. And um—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I'm just going to—I'm going to have to push this up to you because there's quite a lot of traffic noise coming in from there. I don't know how, but I can hear it through here. So speak into the microphone.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Okay. And what did you want to know?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So you're taking walks down the La Cienega Gallery Row.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. So we were interested in art, okay? And I even took uh, a couple of seminars that Felix Landau conducted, which were wonderful. He was a great dealer. And um, my activities were largely around the house, but I was also active in Recording for Blind, and in Council of Jewish Women, and Women's Committee for Brandeis University. And I was part of—oh, and I was also part of Great Books. Um, and then I became involved with Junior Great Books and evolved into a director of the local group. [00:12:00] Uh, scheduling and placing volunteers to conduct Junior Great Books in classes in elementary schools around Southern California—around Los Angeles. And all this time, Allen was in real estate by this time, and decided that he wanted to become a lawyer. So I—and at the same time, I was a docent at the LA County Museum of Art. And uh, after about a year-and-a-half as a docent, I was asked—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And this is one of the museums down in Exposition Park, right?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No, no, no.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  No, no. It was up over here. It was 1970.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Nineteen-seventy. Okay.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And um, I was asked to join the staff at Zeitlin & Ver Brugge, the Big Red Barn on La Cienega, Antiquarian Books and Fine Art.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And just pause for a second here. Do you want to get some water? Because this is going to be going on for a while.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  That's all right.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And so I was working there.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And how did they happen to contact you?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, uh, the director was also a docent. And she and I had worked together at the LA County.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what was her name?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Marilyn Pink.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Okay.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And um, I worked there for almost four years, during which time Allen was in law school, as well as maintaining his real estate practice. And when he graduated, he said, "It's your turn now." [00:14:00] And that point, I was ready to leave Zeitlin & Ver Brugge. And for a year, a year-and-a-half, I was working at Stephen White Gallery of Photography. Stephen and Mus are very good friends of mine, even today.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And that was on La Cienega then, wasn't it?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  That's right. Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Until, as I say, Allen said "it's your turn," and he graduated law school and passed the bar. And I opened my own art print dealership.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So after the four years at Zeitlin & Ver Brugge, I wanted to say just for the tape that Jake Zeitlin, of course, was—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Legendary.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —a legendary book dealer in Los Angeles.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Right.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And a photography and art dealer, as well. And then after four years there, you went to work for Stephen White when he was selling photography.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Right.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Okay. And then you decided to open your own print gallery.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  That's right. That's exactly right.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And that was in 1978?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Seventy-eight. Yes.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Seventy-eight is when I got my license. Seventy-nine is when I really was into business.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  To be in business. Before that, I was not in business. I was simply working for somebody.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what kind of license did you need to be in business?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  You have to have a business license to conduct any kind of uh, business in Los Angeles County, the State of California.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Oh, I see. Not like a special print dealer license or anything like that.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No, no, no. No. I did not become a member of the IFPDA [International Fine Print Dealers Association] until uh, oh, a couple of years. I really don't remember. Early '80s.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So did you open in this location—


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —on Beverly Boulevard?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  This was Allen's, his real estate office. [00:16:00]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  [Laughs.] So you moved him out and moved yourself in?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I moved him out. He went to Beverly Hills, and I moved in.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what is the address here?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Seven-three-two-one Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90036.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what happened on your opening day? Can you des—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, I didn't have anything dramatic. I really didn't uh, call myself a gallery even. I simply—well, I did, I guess. Tobey C. Moss Gallery. But I didn't have shows or anything like that. I simply was here. And the office was quite condensed. It was simply this room and that room. Not that room. Not that room.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. So by opening, what were your expectations to open an art gallery?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, I simply loved prints. And I loved history. And I focused upon five centuries of prints and drawings. And I had uh, also accumulated a number of clients who liked my guidance. And that's essentially what I am, is a consultant, a dealer. I buy and I sell. And I take on consignment. I place. I help collections. And this is what it's evolved into. I added the facet of having an open gallery with uh, exhibitions. And uh, I can't remember exactly when those started, but I would put out little newsletters. And those proceeded into being brochures and little catalogues. And for many years I published. I now publish very sporadically. [00:18:00]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, back up a bit. I mean, this is really arguably the most exciting period in the history of Los Angeles art, the 1960s to 1970s.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, not '60s. In the '70s—



HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So you were here. And you undoubtedly going up and down La Cienega. You saw Ferus Gallery, Felix Landau Gallery, Nick Wilder's Gallery.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Ferus Gallery I didn't pay attention to. Nick Wilder, yes. And Jackie Anhalt. And Robles, Esther Robles.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Esther Robles. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And uh, Adam Meckler. And um, oh. Felix Landau, of course. And Ben Horowitz of the Heritage Gallery. David Stuart. Hmm.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  The name Anhalt isn't familiar to me.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Jackie Anhalt?



HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Tell me about that. Was it called the Jackie Anhalt Gallery?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I think so.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And also, I think—well, I'm not sure. I really don't remember everybody at this point. I haven't really thought about it for a long time.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, I understand that. But were your interests—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I was interested only in anything visual, but I worked at Jake's. Well, by the '70s, I worked at Jake's. And by the early '70s, through the Docent Council, I was very much focused upon prints and drawings, works on paper. So that's what I sought out at these various uh, galleries. For example, David Stuart really didn't have that much interest in prints and drawings. But I liked—he was right next door to Jake.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  So I went there. [00:20:00] Uh, but the galleries that had prints and drawings, and Felix, as I say, was a target for me because he not only covered—he covered a full history almost. And of course, Jake was a fount of information. And he just was so giving about uh, talking to me about anything and everything. And I was exposed to um, incunabula, as well as the early masters of engraving. Albrecht Dürer. Just many of the artists in that period. And it carried through the 17th, 18th, 19th centuries. In my own business, I started out with five centuries of prints and drawings, but I didn't have the capitalization that I should have had. And I couldn't maintain an inventory of the early works. So I soon retreated to a focus of my own, which was—first it was American, only American. And then it was 20th century American. And then it really—I was very excited about California from the '30s on when it became adventurous, and when it was a lot of infiltration of the ex-patriots of Europe, the great ex-pats who uh, brought Surrealism, Post-Surrealism. Well, Post-Surrealism was really Lundeberg and Feitelson. They developed that. But it was based upon surrealism in Europe. And, of course, we had people like Oskar Fischinger. [00:22:01] And the movie industry, the animation industry. And all the writers, the Huxleys, the Feuchtwangers.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, some of these people were still around.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, they all were around. Sure. I met many of them at Jake's. Jake was a mecca. And uh, people like Kate Steinitz. Wonderful, wonderful woman. And uh, artists like Jean Charlot. But scholars came from—Jake had a focus of his own, which was the history of science. So all these fabulous scientists would come and um, go through his stacks. One particular man—I don't remember his name—but he was a scholar in astronomy. And he had a sub-interest in French folksong that followed the Mississippi River from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Which was fascinating to me. But that's what the scientists were. They were very broad and they were very excited about so many things. One thing breeds interest in another.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Hang on just a second while I get my own glass of water anyway. While you are at Jake's, did you develop friendships with any of these artists?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, yes. With Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, tell me about that relationship, and how you met them, and how it progressed.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well Jake—we had old master drawings. [00:24:00] And Lorser and Helen collected Old Master drawings, Old Master prints, 17th, 18th, and nine—they collected everything. They collected particularly drawings, but also prints. And um, so they would climb the stairs up to the art gallery loft. The book store was on the first floor and the arts were up the stairs. And that's when I met them.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And tell me about how that friendship evolved for you.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, I soon recognize—well, let's say that Lorser pontificated. And I hung on his words. And we were um, planning our first trip to Europe. This was in 1978. And he made this whole itinerary for me of things that I had to see, places I had to visit. And I left um, town promising to give him full reports. And when I came back, he was dead.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And I was shattered.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Helen and I bonded. And it ended up that within about a year, um, she asked me to help her sort out things, categorize, catalogue them, arrange the pieces, and to also—she had started off with another dealer who was selling some of her prints and paintings. [00:26:01] But then she asked me to take over.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And who was the other dealer?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Um, I want to say Perl's, but it wasn't Perl's. It was—I don't remember.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  That's okay. I can find that, it's in the Lundeberg material.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Allen might be able to remember.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Or it can come up later. So here you are having this relationship with Helen. And then did you become friendly with her?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, very much so. I sort of became a right hand to her. And I helped organize both of their collections, her work and his work, two separate storage areas. And um, the end—and sold for her. I maintained for her so that we um, pretty much the prints and drawings had been sold by that time or dispersed.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You mean her own or the Old Master ones?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. The Old Master works and the 19th and 20th century, early 20th century prints and drawings. But I finished that up and sold those for a couple of years, maybe two or three years until they were all gone. And then we concentrated on her paintings and his paintings. And I had a very, very nice show. I think it was 1984, the first Olympics. We had Olympics here. And so I had a very—a nice show just about that time of the California Modernists, led by Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg. I've got the catalogue. I can show you.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  A very narrow brochure.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Great. [00:28:00] So did this take you in another direction in a way? I mean, suddenly—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. It did. And that's why I broadened, because of Helen and Lorser. So that instead of being exclusively prints and drawings, I was now offering their paintings.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, to whom did you sell their paintings?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Their paintings?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Yeah. Who was the audience for that work?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Gerald Buck was one.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Poor Gerald. Yeah, we just lost—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. I know. I'm very sad about that. I would have to go through my list, but I placed them in museums, as well as private collections. And uh, the list of people who bought their works is quite extensive.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Was it difficult to sell that work?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Um, I don't know what you call difficult.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  I was very much interested in history and the evolution of Modernist thought in California. And it began at the time of Helen and Lorser's presence in Los Angeles in 1930, 1931, '32, '33. And then it just proceeded along. It's the history that I'm interested in. And Helen and Lorser's works, we proceeded through the evolution of their work, so that for example, uh, when Gerald Buck came to me first, he was very much interested in works of California Impressionism. And I said, "I don't have California Impressionism. I have where California art turns the corner into Modernist thought." And I introduced him to Feitelson and Lunderberg. And he bought quite a nice collection of both of their works. [00:30:01] But then, through him, with him, he proceeded along. And I showed him how Helen's work particularly uh, evolved over the course of the next year, so that he ended up acquiring her works of the 1970s. Nineteen-seventies and '80s even. So I helped develop collections.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And who are some of the other artists you sold to him?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, I don't remember. I would have to go through his file.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  There are many.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, was the connection to Lorser and Helen then helpful in getting other artists to sign up with you?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. Helen and Lorser were very independent and really were not artsy. They did not belong to an art community. They always valued their independence. So I can't say that that was true at all. It's just that word gets around. And art began to come into me. People wanted to consign works from their collections. Other people wanted to look for an artist. And it just matched up. You just have to be able to recognize the connections, and the history is my base. It always has been.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So now you're representing Helen who's still alive, and Lorser's pictures, and he's already passed away. And then do you have any sense of sort of uh, a chronology at all of who starts to come to you? I mean, I can name names like Emerson Woelffer.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Emerson was pretty much later.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  William Brice. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Uh, you'd have to look at my catalogue. I really don't—if you want to turn that off, I'll go and look right now. [00:32:02]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, let's in a general way review some of the artists who start coming into your gallery. I know Emerson Woelffer comes to do a show with you. William Brice.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Um, not really. Let's see. Who was it? Ynez Johnston. Oh, Peter Krasnow. Peter and I met a couple of years before his death. And um, his estate when he died was brought to me for handling. So I enjoyed that collection. I still enjoy his work very much. And I have a lot of his work. People like Werner Drewes. Werner Drewes is not a Californian. But I was in Washington, D.C. and saw an exhibition at the National Collection of Fine Art is what it was called then, of Werner Drewes' woodcuts. And I really fell in love with them. And the curator said, "Why don't you go over and tell him?" So it turns out that he lived just outside of Washington. So I called him up and went over and visited him. And we had a—just we hit it off well. And he um, very much liked me and I very much liked his work. And I concentrated on his prints. Woodcuts, etchings, um, collages. In fact, I was the first person that ever pried a collage away from him. And of course, they're quite traded now. But he recognized them only as ideas, like sketches. Well, I like sketches. I like those first ideas. [00:34:00] And um, so Werner Drewes' estate came to me.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And did you have that kind of personal relationship with other artists who you showed?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  With Jules Engel. Dear Jules Engel.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Tell me about that. How did you meet him and how did that come about?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, he came into the gallery and he um, showed me—he wanted to show me some of his work. And he showed me some of his paintings. And I said, "Really I want to concentrate on prints and drawings." And he said, "Well," and he began to show me that he was uh, one of the prime artists at Walt Disney Studios in the '30s and was very much a part of Fantasia. And that started us off. And Jules and I were very close friends until he died. A very dear, sweet man.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And when did your relationship with him start? What year would that be?



TOBEY C. MOSS:  In the '80s.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And that's also true of Werner Drewes?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Drewes? Yes.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Early '80s. And also I was very interested in Oskar Fischinger. Oskar Fischinger lived here. And I did not meet him. I only met his wife, Alfreda. And uh, we had a very nice relationship. And I sold his work.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Had he passed away?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. He passed away in the '60s. But he also was, you know, the brains, the instigator of Fantasia. It was he and Stokowski that came into Disney's and said they wanted to do a full-length feature film of [animation ‑TM] art.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. [00:35:59]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And so they did the "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," the opener, all abstract [animation ‑TM]. And then Disney said, "Sorry, fellas. I've got to have Mickey Mouse."


TOBEY C. MOSS:  So Oskar walked off the studio and Jules Engel took over.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  I'm trying to think of who else was here.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, tell me about your relationship with Ynez Johnston.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, um—



HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Which is ongoing I take it. She's still alive.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, yes, but she's very quiet. She's in a protected situation now. She's aged, but she's very much alive. And every once in a while we have lunch at a Mexican restaurant, which she likes. I just always liked her work. Her etchings are incredible. And whenever anybody had some interesting art [SJJ1] to consign, I took them on consignment so that I had her work in the gallery. And then one day, after her dealer in New York, and her dealer in Switzerland, and her dealer in Chicago all closed up, I made bold to ask whether I could have her work in the gallery. And she said yes. So that's how our relationship began.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And when, again, when do you think that started?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I think that was also in the '80s ['90s ‑TM].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  So we've been fairly stable since that time with regards to these artists. [00:38:02]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Are you getting me a brochure?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  This is an early brochure, which still has a lot of European in it. This one here, this is our 30th anniversary catalogue. And it proceeded across the years. Um, I met the work of, but not the people, through Helen and Lorser, such as Ben Berlin and uh, Knud Merrill. People who were very uh, influential in developing the early—the thriving, innovative culture of Los Angeles. Oh, and we mustn't forget Joyce Tremain. Oh, I also had a show of Sorel Etrog's sculpture.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  I also had a show of Sorel Etrog from Canada.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You have to help me with that spelling.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  E-T-R-O-G. And the first name is?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Sorel.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Um, I didn't have large sculptures. I had maquettes and drawings and prints. Oh, I also had um, developed an interest in the Federal Arts Project. And I met Elizabeth Catlett. And she invited me down to Cuernavaca to visit her, which we did, where I met Mauricio Lasansky also. [00:40:02]


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And Pablo O'Higgins.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You know what I have to do? Take a break here for a moment to put money in the meter.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Because I'm on the—I don't suppose they—hang on just a second. Let's put this on pause.

[Audio Break.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, I would like to talk about your relationships with the artists because it seems as though that's really been very motivating for you.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Very much so.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And uh, so could you tell me about your—did you socialize with any of these artists?


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I mean, did you go to dinner? Did you go to parties? Did you travel?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. We really didn't socialize that much. I would go out for an occasional lunch with Jules Engel. Or uh, we would have birthday dinners for Helen. But um, I'm not a very social person. I have family. A large family. And I'm focused most on, mostly on my family. It always has been that way.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Hmm. Well, while we're on this topic of family, what happened to your three sons? What do they do?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  They're all scienti—well, they're all uh, scientists. Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Oh. And are they all married?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. Seven grandchildren, thank you.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  All of them are finished with college. The grandchildren.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And they all live in this—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  They live everywhere around the country.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Everywhere you can think of.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So while you were running this very successful business, you also continued to be involved in your family's life. [00:42:06]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, very definitely. Family comes first with me.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Which is a good thing. And to—and then how did you proceed to run your business here? Did you keep hours, the beginning or later?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, yes. We had regular hours. And sometimes I had uh, directors, assistants. And uh, we—I don't know quite what you mean. I had regular hours. By this time, I didn't start my business until I was 50 years old. My children didn't need me anymore. There was nobody at home. Everybody was gone. And Allen and I just pursued our own careers. He was starting as a lawyer and I was starting with the gallery. So that was our focus. So the demands of family were not there on a daily basis.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And at the time that you started, it seems to me that the artists you showed really would have welcomed the attention, because by that point really, the contemporary art scene in Los Angeles had become so large and competitive.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Right.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And these founders of the modern era in Los Angeles were getting less attention.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And I really—when you mentioned Ferus, I wasn't really interested in what Ferus did. Now, that was a whole revolution in itself, see? But I was grounded on the '30s and the '40s, as opposed to the '60s, '50s, '60s.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, the first revolution in the Modernist revolution—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, it was a very quiet revolution.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  [Laughs.] Well, it was certainly a small revolution.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  But you know, Modernism in Southern California has only gained attention since then. [00:44:00]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I think I created a lot of that attention.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, tell me about that.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, I focused. I named it. California Modernists. I don't think the term was used before I used it. And in fact, my next exhibition that's coming up in October is called Contemporary Modernists. They're just as relevant today as they were in 1930. And it's been proven over and over again that the contemporary, cutting-edge artists in Los Angeles, they were nurtured on that kind of an atmosphere, that kind of a fabric.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You mean—tell me more about that thought.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg very much believed in a structure. Lorser felt that before you can walk, you crawl. And before you attempt to paint, you draw, and you create a composition. Your composition is not a slap-dash abstract expressionist blob, but that there is a structure and a story, a narrative if you will. It's not that he did narrative stories. But it's just that each one of them has a structure, be it architectonic or be it on a landscape. For example, Helen always had a relatable subject in her abstract work. Landscape, interior, a doorway, a vista. Lorser was very much involved with the figure from the '20s, from the time he was a teenager. [00:45:59] And he went through various phases from um, naturalism or what do we call it again? I can't think of the term that was used in the '20s. Picasso went through the same thing in the '20s. In the '30s, with the Federal Arts Project, and Post-Surrealism, figuration was definitely a part of both of their works, particularly his. Not so much hers. She was always interested in space. And um, the figure became ever more abstracted, but even though he um, developed hard-edge abstraction by 1950 and carried it through the '70s, his last couple of years was a return, in the early '70s, to the figure in a very abstract term. Very sensual forms and lines that touch and intersect. And um, coming full circle. I feel that if he had lived another decade, we would have seen more and more of the figure, figuration emerging in his work. But I love to see that roll of ideas. Helen did the same thing in her work. She had a theme that she was pursuing. And she would explore it with one, three, five, seven pieces in a series. And then she'd say, "Well, I've satisfied myself now and I want to—" you know, she would proceed to something else that intrigued her. And that's how I think artists work. If an artist um, does the same thing he was doing 20 years earlier, why? [00:48:01] Doesn't he have any more ideas? Doesn't he have any evolution? Uh, doesn't he develop? I think that some artists with early success, they become frozen with their own success. And they're afraid. Helen and Lorser were not afraid. And that was the idea in California in the '30s and '40s. They pushed out the boundaries. That's why many artists came from New York or jumped over New York from Europe, because California was the land of innovation.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, the time that you started representing these people, the so-called you know, the hard-edged abstraction group, the sort of so-called Abstract Classicists.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You know, that would be—there you go. We're looking at a catalogue that you've published. Your anniversary, 30-year anniversary catalogue with a whole section on the four Abstract Classicists.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, this is a history. It's sort of a loose history. And uh, in this exhibition, Lorser was gone.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Nineteen-eighty-three.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  John McLaughlin was gone. But I knew Fred Hammersley and I knew Karl Benjamin.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Nineteen-eighty-three this show was. So this was only done five years after you opened your gallery.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Right.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Yeah. So you were very involved. Even though the work was older, you were involved in that period in terms of supporting it. Let's put it that way.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Right.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Yeah. And what uh, since you came from prints, this is a kind of a different thing. What did you like about it?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  That's right. When Helen and Lorser came into my life, I broadened my focus because they were primarily [painters ‑TM]. They did have some prints. That's why I really started with them, for the Federal Arts Project prints, and the drawings of Helen. [00:50:01] Wonderful. But uh, paintings of course was a pressing need. I helped support Helen through the sale of her paintings.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And then what happened to—then did your perspective change? Because after that, you really seemed—well, during that period and after, you just keep showing more and more of the painters.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  It just broadened. Here's a June Wayne, in 1983, painting. And her lithographs. Tamarind Lithography Workshop. It was an historical event that took place here in Los Angeles. And Helen—I mean June Wayne was the founder. So things like that excite me very much. I should also say that there's also another key figure in here. Not an artist, but a printer, Lynton Kistler. Lynton Kistler was um—I can't remember where he was born. But from the '20s on, he worked in his father's uh, studio. In fact, he was in Wor—uh no. I'm getting mixed up. Yeah. He was in Europe in World War I, and just at the very end of it, and became excited by the European prints that he saw there. And he had been working in his father's letterpress workshop. And from that, he began to collect lithography stones and to explore stone lithography. Uh, by the end of the '20s, he was uh, tracking artists. By the '30s, he was committed to his own workshop where he would set an artist down in front of the stone and say, "Use it. Explore it." [00:52:08] And artist came to him to learn lithography. In fact, when June Wayne came here in the early '40s, when her husband was stationed out here, she went to his [Kistler's] studio and did quite a number of lithographs with him over the course of the next 10 years. That's how I became introduced to her work, was through the prints that were in Kistler's studio. So I met Mr. Kistler at Jake Zeitlin's. And um, Jake handled some of the prints. See, Kistler wouldn't—many times the artists didn't have any money. So they would come to Kistler and they would do an edition. And they would split the edition. And Mr. Kistler would sell from the edition. And the artist would have theirs to sell or do whatever they wanted to. And so Kistler brought his lithographs to Jake Zeitlin. And we offered them in the gallery. And when Mr. Kistler heard that I was leaving Jake, he wanted me to take over his studio, to buy his studio. Well, I didn't have any money at all. And I said, "I can't." I said, "Go and reduce your inventory and maybe by the time you do that, I'll be able to afford something." So that's what happened. Maybe three or four or five years down the line, he said, "I really have to retire. [00:54:01] I'm too old. I want to move down to Orange County. And um, now come and buy the studio." So I did. I went to my local bank, got a loan, and I bought Kistler's studio bodily. The file cabinets, the proofs,—


TOBEY C. MOSS:  —and the prints that were in his cabinets.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And that was very important for me. Very, very important for me.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Because it was princip—artists he had worked with.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Not just his work, but I mean the work he had done, done with all these artists.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  The '30s, from the '30s on.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And also, I had met Jean Charlot at Jake Zeitlin's. And Jean Charlot had come across in 1930 from New York to work with Lynton Kistler for color lithography. And um, I met him at Jake's. And Kistler had a large collection of Jean Charlot proofs.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  So I started out with a very fine collection of works uh, from the '30s that were lithographs made at Lynton Kistler's studio.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. So here you are with this material. It's now the mid-'80s or something.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Again, who was the audience for this material?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  [Laughs.] I have had many wonderful clients over the years. Museums came to me. Um, I had many, many collectors. I really can't uh, off the top of my head just proceed down the list.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  No, I know. But so did you have to make uh—did word of this come out in a newsletter from you? How did you make this acquisition and this material known to the public? [00:56:03]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I published uh, little newsletters.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  I'll show you a newsletter—


TOBEY C. MOSS:  —from the—want to see it? Just a second.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And they would say, "Oh, my gosh. You've got that?" [Laughs.]

[Audio Break.]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  —in 1986. But this is the kind of thing I would publish.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Uh, just a brochure.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Uh-huh [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  But this is not my first. My first was actually a newsletter. And it was um—this is a little introduction by Clifford Ackley, the curator at the Boston Museum. Um, but my first one was a little newsletter that had the three artists [phone rings]—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I'm so sorry. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

[Audio Break.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —originally. I wouldn't mind having another one because, of course, my own archives are nowhere near as organized [laughs] as they should be. But the point is you had set up these newsletters to your people. And people, museum curators and collectors would respond.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. I think I tried it out with a mailing list of about three or four hundred people.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And um, those were mostly people that I had—[clears throat]. Sorry. [00:57:59] When I left Jake and I went next door to help Steve White with his gallery because his director had left. And um, people heard that I had done that. And they came to me and said, "Well, you know what we like. Keep us in mind." And I began to collect names and interests and addresses and all that kind of stuff. And then also, uh, about this time, in the '80s, I became a member of the IFPDA, International Fine Print Dealers Association. And I went to um, I participated in a couple of the New York prints fairs. And again, had good response. Everybody was eager to learn more about California artists. And um, one thing just leads to another. And then, as I say, I would do these little brochures. Either I would do a little brochure like this, or I would um, send—there's Werner Drewes. And there were reviews that appeared in different places. This is Drewes, my Drewes show. Um, or I would send out a list. This is one of a, kind of a list that I would send out.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, tell me about um, the financial aspect of selling this art. I mean, what's your prac—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I was crazy. I had absolutely no money. I didn't understand how I should have had some capitalization for press and for an assistant, and for a lot of things. [01:00:07] Uh, and I just got by on the skin of my teeth, you know. I was fortunate to be married, and to be supported, and a roof over my head.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  What were the sort of prices? And it's hard to narrow it down, I know, but let's put it this way. Let's say, what was like the most expensive thing that you sold in your first decade, in the 1980s?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, um, Elizabeth Catlett. I would sell Elizabeth Catlett prints for $375, even $300 I think, things that now sell for $18,000 $20,000 and $22,000. Or Helen Lundeberg, the Federal Arts Projects prints. Again, we had her prints for $300 dollars. They are now $10[000], $12[000], $14[000], $16[000] and you can't find them. So um, or I had a collection of Ernest Haskell prints. There was a dealer up in San Francisco who um, closed shop. And so I bought a stack of Ernest Haskell etchings. In fact, one of them is right here. And I still have an impression. This right here.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Okay. Beautiful print.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I know. I just love that print. "The Fan Tree."

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mmm. But you know, really, at what point—[01:02:00] So these prices are really very low. At the same time—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I didn't have any money.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You must have been—

[END OF TRACK moss13_1of2_track01.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —aware that you know, certainly Gemini—

[END OF TRACK moss13_1of2_track02.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  This is Hunter Drohojowska-Philp interviewing Tobey Moss at her gallery in Los Angeles, California on September 12, 2013 for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Card Number Two. We were talking, Tobey, about Clinton Adams and uh, his role here as a printmaker, an artist, and your relationship with him.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, Clinton was one of the early members of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop and helped June Wayne in the initial offerings, the initial training. Um, he went on, of course, to direct a number of programs around the country. And when June, after a decade of Tamarind in Los Angeles at her studio, transferred the ownership of the Tamarind to the University of New Mexico, Clinton became the director in New Mexico, where it resides to this day. But he doesn't, because he's passed away.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  He was a very, very nice man. Very encouraging, very much of a guide, a teacher. And uh, we worked together. I offered his work. I had a couple of his shows. And I had included his work whenever I could. And we also enjoyed having a nice glass of um, scotch and water. [Laughter.] After the sun went over the yardarm. [Laughter.] And he and his wife, Mary, we visited with them in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as well as here when they were in California. [00:02:00] Uh, I have his work still in the gallery.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what kind of person was he? I mean, he obviously had tremendous influence on the print community.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Clinton Adams? Absolutely.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. So what kind of person was he?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  A very deliberate, very quiet, very um—I won't say demanding. He just—you should listen to him. [Laughing.] That's it. Because what he had to say was important. Uh, however, he did not spend that much time in California while I—in the '60s. After his initial start with Tamarind, that's when he took off to go around the country to different positions at different universities. And um, we met really not in the '60s, but well, in the '70s, through my interest in the Tamarind Lithography Workshop.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Now, before our last digital card ran out of space, I wanted to ask you about your relationship to Gemini, which comes up at the same—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, Gemini is—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —shortly after in terms of uh, their focus and what they were doing.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, I simply knew them as a contemporary uh, publisher. And I was very much interested in them because they were the first offspring of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, and a most illustrious example you could not pick. And then Jean Milant of Cirrus soon followed with his own studio. But uh, Gemini has been a leader in the contemporary world in their printmaking, in their innovation. They've developed new techniques. [00:04:00]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  What do you think this—I mean, there is a lot of important printmaking that has been done in Southern California, and probably Northern California. But we're talking really about this area. Uh, do you think that's had any particular role in terms of spreading information about what gets done in this area or—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Of course.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Tell me your opinion on that.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  The Tamarind Lithography Workshop and Gemini introduced lithography, the technique, to artists all around the country, all around the world. That was June Wayne's intent, to train printers, to encourage fine artists like Rauschenberg, like Stella, like uh, Diebenkorn to explore the stone, to develop a technique that became noteworthy. And they did. They did.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  But do you think the prints that were made here, like literally, even the federal project, even the Federal Art Project prints—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —or the later prints, do you think that that had any kind of effect on people's vision of LA art outside of LA, people outside of LA and how they viewed what happened here?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I don't think that the world paid attention to Los Angeles in the '30s and the '40s. I think the artists paid attention. But I don't think the collecting—the collectors did. Um, even the museums ignored it until fairly recently for that matter. They're playing catch-up now. Or they're inheriting, due to other people's uh, perspicacity in acquiring artists, art of that period. But the good example is the Louisiana [Museum of Modern Art] in 1970. [00:06:02] I'm a little bit loose on that. But they're the ones who jumped over New York to have um, an exhibition of California artists in Denmark.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Right. When Pontus Hulten was there.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  That's right. That's right. So, the perception of California as an innovative center was really in the hearts of the artists. That word got around much earlier than it did to the collectors. Even today, the collectors go to New York to buy because New York is a big marketplace. But that's because they don't have the confidence or the sense, or they don't take the effort to explore what's being done right here in California.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, that's why I was asking you how you marketed this material that you had because what was your audience? Because I know that every dealer—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Word got around.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —every dealer always says that the big hurdle in Los Angeles is sales.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. Word got around.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Nowadays, galleries open and they are showing my—the artists that I introduced or that—I didn't introduce them exactly. I brought them out of their studios, the people of the '30s and '40s and '50s. You know yourself. I'm not even going to name the names.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  But there are some galleries are simply clones of mine, but it's right as it should be, because I'm old and I'm fading out.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And so this is the—I'm thrilled to pieces.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I was going to ask you that very thing. I was going to say do you feel uh, annoyed that—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Not at—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —that other galleries have stepped in and sort of taken up this artist or that artist?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, it certainly limited me. But then again, it's just like you—you have a child. [00:08:00]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And you raise the child. And you don't want the child hanging around you as they grow older. To be successful, you have to have an independent child that progresses into adulthood and functions independently. And that's exactly what's happening.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And do you um, on that note, are none of your children interested in the gallery?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, that's not—yes, they are interested in the gallery, but they're all very busy. Uh, as a matter of fact, a couple of my—one of my sons and daughter-in-law are helping me with fairs, print fairs that are not in Los Angeles. I don't have anybody here. And so obviously nobody's going to work with me in the gallery. Even my grandchildren are in other fields. But um, one of my granddaughters is an artist herself. She also teaches fourth grade elementary school. And um, one of my granddaughters is an artist, but she's a chef down in Austin, Texas. And this is the way it goes. And my grandsons, as uh, electronic engineers or as a water engineer, they collect art.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  My sons all have small collections. They all like art.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, so do you ever envision leaving your gallery to any of them?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. Because I don't think they want to do this. But, yes, the contents of it will certainly be theirs. I will not sell all of this in my lifetime.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. How much work do you still have in inventory do you think?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, I have a big inventory. I don't know how many prints.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  But you know, like in the hundreds?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  [Laughs.] Well, we're doing it for the record. So how— [00:10:00]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I mean, prints are you know, these cabinets are all filled with prints. And there's cabinets in the back there, and there's cabinets in the back there, and there's cabinets everywhere. The paintings are more limited, but we have a small collection of paintings, as well.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, we were talking before about um, you're running the gallery yourself. And the only thing I really found of any kind of depth on the internet about your gallery was this unfortunate incident with a man named George Grimaldis—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  [Laughs.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —who apparently was the director of your gallery and stole—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  For five years.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —and stole your art.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  For five years I trusted him.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And could you just tell me your version of that story? Because all I could find was this funny story that the LAPD has published—[laughs]—actually.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. Don Hrycyk, the art cop. He was wonderful. Uh, it's just that George was a breath of fresh air. He was just handsome and young. And his father was a dealer, was gallerist back east. And um, he wanted to work with me. And I thought, you know, he's going to really inject a different tone, a modern tone, a young tone into the gallery.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what year did he start? Because the blog thing wasn't dated actually.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  It must have been the 1990s because uh, after he worked for me for five years, then he got sent up to penitentiary for five years. And he's out. And I hear of him being—he was about. I don't know anymore where he is anymore. So I think that it must have been in the '90s. So anyways he—I—towards the end of those five years, I noticed that there were holes in my research library, which is quite extensive. [00:12:04] And I—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You mean books sort of thing.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. My books. My reference books. And they were not there. And um, then I began to miss some art. And he would say, "Oh, that's on approval somewhere." Or um, "It's being re-matted." Or things like that. Until one day, one night, I was reading old Swann catalogues. And lo and behold, some of the things I knew I was missing in the—were being auctioned. That's when I called up the police. And I went through an inventory. And even my inventory, which had been dependent upon the cooperation of this fellow, was lacking. And I did not catch, for example, all the Stieglitz's photogravures from Camera Work that he had stolen and I didn't miss them at that early, that first stage. So I never reported those.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  But uh, it turned out that uh, had siphoned off almost a quarter of a million dollars.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Now, the police tracked him to a dealer in Atlanta, Georgia, who was consigning the works to Swann in New York. And um, we caught some things at auction. [00:14:02] Reversed the auctions. And um, began to track it all down.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And did he always take works on paper because they were sort of small and easily transported?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Um, I think primarily. I think primarily. Some drawings perhaps, but I can't think of—well, just prints. Mostly prints.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, how did that affect you being sort of the trusting person that you are?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I was crushed. I was devastated. I was angry because when we finally got him before the judge—this went to the court—he was claiming that I was senile and I couldn't remember things, and that I, you know, that kind of thing. And that really made me very angry. And um, we proceeded to tear him apart.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Don't make me angry. [Laughter]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Good. Well, I thought this was so funny, there's absolutely nothing on the internet about Tobey Moss except George Grimaldis and [laughs] this horrible case. Uh, I'd like to back up a little bit because one thing I think we haven't talked about very much is Stephen White.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You're at Jake Zeitlin. You move over to Stephen White, who is in the equally-unprofitable business of selling photography—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Photography.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —and it's way before anybody was really into collecting photography.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  But Stephen also was working from history.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Stephen presents the full history of photography. He would—he had a little studio over on San Vicente. And he would come over to Jake's because Jake occasionally had photography. Uh, Edward Weston particularly. And camera work.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. [00:16:00]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  One of the—uh, well—so that's how Steve and I met. And we really liked each other. And when he heard that I was leaving, he had just separated from his director.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And who was his director?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Joan Myers, a photographer also. And so um, he asked me to come and sit the gallery for a couple of weeks. Well, that extended to almost two years. But before the two years was up, I told Steve I really wanted to get back to my prints. And that's when I went to Jake and I said, "This is what I'd like to do." And Jake was my mentor. Jake and I had a wonderful relationship. He really changed my life. He really changed my life.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And so you went to him and said, "This is what I want to do." What did he say? What did he say in response to your decision to try to—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Open a gallery?


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Go for it. And he helped me all along the way. He um—


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Whenever I'd have a problem—like I had a problem with another dealer once who wouldn't pay—I would just give him a call in the morning and say, "Jake, can we have a few minutes?" And he'd say, "Pick me up for lunch." And of course, he always paid for lunch. [Laughs.] But he just was my mentor. He and his wife, Josephine.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  What kind of person was he?


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. I never got to know him.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, he was just so—


TOBEY C. MOSS:  —so open and relaxed and garrulous. The fact that he had a gallery at all was a miracle. It was only because he married Josephine, who was quite organized. [00:18:00]


TOBEY C. MOSS:  She was the one who put it all together. But uh, they didn't meet until the '30s. And he started, of course, in the '20s. But he was a great man. He could equally talk with heads of state as with a student. And he was just uh, a marvelous, marvelous poet and friend.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And so he became your guide through the process of trying to run a business?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Right.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what other advice did he give you?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, I had one dealer in Kansas, to whom I had, upon his request, sent him some prints that he kept. And when I would wait for payment, and I was waiting and waiting and waiting, and finally I'd call up and say, you know, "Payment?" He says, "Well, I might get around to it some time." And I said, "You might get around to it some time?" I said, "No." He said, "Well, I can't do it right now." And so that's when I would call up Jake and say, "I'm getting stonewalled here." He said, "You just call him up and tell him that if he doesn't pay you that you're going to get the word out, the whole print community, the art print community." And I got a check by the return mail. So that's the kind of thing. See, I wouldn't think of threatening like that [laughs].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, and you know, based on Jake's own running a business. I mean, he managed to stay in business for decades—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —selling books, which is like almost [laughs] impossible.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  They weren't just books.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Books, prints, and photographs.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. These weren't just books.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  These were books focused on history of printmaking and of books itself, of ideas. [00:20:02] And as I say, the history of science, he was a mecca for that.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  He formed Pedretti's collection at UCLA. He formed collections from all around the world.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  He was a member of the Rounce and Coffin Club and the Paul Landacre Society he organized. He did the first exhibition for Käthe Kollwitz in the United States. Nobody would show her work. It was too tough.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And Paul Landacre. He recognized Paul's talent from the end of the '20s. And he encouraged him and showed his work. Edward Weston, the same thing. They were all good friends of Jake's. And Jake supported them. Jake supported lots of artists.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  By showing their work you mean.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  By showing their work, and by friendship, and by introducing them around.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Did he buy work? Did he build his own collection?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, yes. He had [laughs]. Um, he loved Bruegel. And he built many different Bruegel collections, which he would sell, finally, when it was all a whole collection, he would sell it to some institution or big collector. And I'd say, "How can you do that? You spent so much time and effort to put it together." He said, "I'll build another one." And that's just what he did. He had a collection of ships, Bruegel's ships that he sold a couple of times while I knew him [laughs].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Wow. When you say collection, do you mean a painting, drawing or—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No, no. These are Breugel—


TOBEY C. MOSS:  —prints.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Prints, but all relating to a theme.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Sixteenth Century.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Very much sought after and admired, a part of history.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And when you say collection though, about ships, you mean all like prints—[00:22:01]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  There were about 14 or 15 in a series.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  In a series. And all on a single topic.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Or subject, rather.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Yeah. Oh, how interesting.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Sometimes it was country scenes. Uh, different or—you know, I used to have all these names that I just haven't handled them for 20 years. And I just have lost them. Like Claude Lorrain. Or um, Stefano della Bella. We had all collections of these artists. Albrecht Dürer, as I said.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So when you went to Stephen White, you went from—at what point was Stephen in his career at that point?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, he had just opened this gallery. He had a small gallery on San Vicente. But he just opened a gallery on La Cienega, right next to Jake. And it was going to be gallery of photography. And he was going strongly. He is a fine, fine dealer. And he knows his stuff. He was really a sociologist by training. And a—a writer, a writer. And he was very interested in the ideas. And he also was collecting in themes. And uh, became enamored of the photography because think about it, where else can you have a full history within a 150 years? It didn't begin until the 1830s.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And so you could get a history, a full history. And he proceeded to fill in. And he found many, many clients who uh, shared his interests, and many museums. And he was very successful.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And you liked it, but you didn't relate to it as much as printmaking.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, I like photography very much. [00:24:02] Um, and I could have stayed in photography, but I wanted to show my prints. I wanted to go back into prints. And I chose not to show photography after I left Stephen, because I would have taken his clients. And I didn't want to do that. So it's only this last two or three years that I've shown photography.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I really had my first real photography show just this last year.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, that was a very impressive show that you had here. I thought, where did all this come from? I thought.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And Stephen was my guide, see.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And again, when you bought that work, what was the range of prices for work like that?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  The photography?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, by that time, they were already $100, $200, $300. I think that people like Avedon and Bill Brandt, you could buy for four or five hundred dollars. Or Ruth Bernhard. I mean, those were just—you can't do that anymore.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  The marketplace is just exploded. So, at any rate, we've seen a lot of changes. And also the value of money has shrunk. What is the dollar evaluating today? Not the same.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  I mean, I could remember my mother buying a pound of coffee for 25 cents.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, this is true. This is just the larger inflation. But uh, certainly the art world as a whole has changed dramatically.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Of course it has.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what is your feeling about keeping up with that or being involved with that?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  [Laughs.] Fortunately, I'm too old and I don't care.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  [Laughs.] I really don't. I can't keep up. I don't, as I pointed out before, I don't have money. [00:26:01] I don't have capitalization. I don't have big investors. I've always shied away from taking investors. A lot of people wanted to invest in my gallery. A lot of people wanted me to expand and to grow, and to do things in a much different way. But I'm just—small.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  I'm just limited. I do what I want to do in my own way. And that's it.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, it's clearly working. And it's actually kind of an old-fashioned way. It's just usual—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, it's giving me satisfaction, okay?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. It's giving you satisfaction. Isn't that a nice thing to be able to say?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. So, I have no regrets.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, one thing we haven't talked about—we've talked about you showing prints, and paintings, and uh, photography lately, but what we haven't talked about is your relationship to the assemblage artists. Gordon Wagner and George Herms.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I did not know Gordon Wagner. He died. But we talked on the telephone. But then he died. And um—but uh, by that time we had sort of had a telephone relationship.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what year was that?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Um, oh, when did he die? Nineteen seventy—let's see. Um, he died in 1987. Nineteen eighty-seven. Yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  But you have pieces. You've bought pieces.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. I have not—I did not buy any pieces.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  His widow, Virginia, wanted me to handle them. And once I started with her, then other pieces came my way. So we had a nice collection. [00:28:02] And then um, I acquired one or two pieces for my personal collection. Then George Herms came around.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And um, oh, I know what it was. It was Gordon Wagner. Gordon Wagner was originally an engineer. And he dabbled in painting.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  He also was a pack rat and would scavenge the shores of the Redondo Beach, and Santa Monica Beach, and gather up stuff. And um, a couple of like artists would gather in his studio, people like Betye Saar, Michael McMillen, Sabato Fiorello, Bruce Houston. Uh, I can't remember. At any rate, they would come to his house for a potluck. And they would all bring a little bit of food and put it on the table. But then they would also carry with them um, bits and pieces from their own studios that they didn't know what to do with, or they didn't have a use for. And that would go in a pile in the middle of the floor.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And over the course of the evening, all the food was eaten.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And all the stuff on the floor was circled endlessly. And somebody would say, "I like that." Or, "I can use this piece." Or, "I want this. This is mine." And um, so all the stuff in the middle of the floor would be gone also, distributed to all the different people who came. [00:30:01]


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And so he was sort of considered the grandpa, because he was older.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  But he was sort of the grandpa, grandfather of those—that group. I had a little lecture—or symposium at the time I had one of the shows that I had for Gordon Wagner. And uh, I invited that circle. And Betye Saar and Michael McMillen, and um, Sabato Fiorello was there. And—oh, I can't remember who else. I've got a recording of it. But I don't have a video of it. That's what—I'm sorry. And so I was going to have it here in the west gallery there. Oh, no. At that time I had the studio across the street, too. Across the patio. So I incorporated both spaces. And I was going to have the—a little symposium over there. And I asked for reservations luckily, because the reservations grew. I knew that I could accommodate about 40 people, but people would not be denied. And I ended up uh, renting a PA system and setting chairs in the patio. And the afternoon of that evening, I get a call um, that I would like to make a reservation—I would like to come tonight to—for the Gordon Wagner symposium. And I said, "I'm really sorry, but we're just overflowing." I said, "I don't have a seat." And he said, "Do you mean that you're going to deny me, Edmund Teske, Gordon Wagner's dearest friend, a seat?" [00:32:05]


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And I said, "Oh, Mr. Teske. I'll find a seat." And that's what we did. And he insisted upon speaking that night also.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  So it was a very wonderful affair.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Um—well, I remember coming to your house for dinner when you invited Walter Hopps.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  About five years, the last—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Just a couple of days before he died.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Yes. The very last thing he did before he died.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And I remember him being sick at your house. And I remember him going into the bathroom and being very sick.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. He was just fading.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And he went to the hospital that night, didn't he?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].



HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Directly to Cedars‑Sinai.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  From which he never emerged.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  He was another great figure. A true innovator. A stimulant. A stimulus.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Did you know him well? I assume you did.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I knew him just a little bit. I knew him through Gordon, through George Herms and through um, well, just part of the community. But just peripherally. He was in a different circle. I'm square.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  He was an arrow. These are people that I was just so privileged to um, to know, you know. Like one time, I had a dinner party and um, it was Jake and Josephine.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And it was Saul Bass and his wife. And um, Gordon Newell and his wife. [00:34:00] And Gloria Stuart, who was Gordon Newall's first wife.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And she was there with Ward Ritchie, who was a great friend of Jake's. You know Ward Ritchie Press?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  The actor? The press. No.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Ward Ritchie Press. Yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Ward Ritchie Press. I don't know it.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  R-I-T-C-H-I-E. Very, very important and influential in the '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Eighties. I mean, when did I—I can't remember when the dinner was. And I didn't have the sense to put a recorder on the table. Anyways.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  But that was because you were such good friends with Jake and Josephine. And were you friends with those other people?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Um, well, I knew a lot of people. Through Jake. But as I say, I wasn't that social. I had dinners occasionally. I liked to make dinners. But not as a pattern.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So you didn't really ever visit artists' studios per se, or do that sort of thing.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-mm [negative]. No. I was not into young artists, cutting-edge. I had to isolate myself. One of the things [reasons ‑TM] I did that—was because I can't bear to turn away an artist. The young artists, I mean, even if the work was very, very good, I couldn't um—and if their work wasn't so good, I could not deny them.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And I sort of made myself a niche. And I said really, I'm going to represent artists who are active and contributing to art history from the '30s on. [00:36:02]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mmm. So it gave you an earlier starting point and you didn't have to deal with all the people who were kind of coming up in the '80s and, and the '90s and so forth.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  That's right. [Laughs.] And I had a very funny occasion that bounced back because this man, this nice gentleman who was probably in his seventies, walked in and said, "Would you like to look at my art? I'd like you to look at my art." And I said, "I'm sorry, but I start with people who are active in the '30s and '40s." He says, "Well, I've got those, too."


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And turned out that he was an artist in the '30s and uh, then World War II came in. He went into the army. And when he got out, he was married. And his father-in-law put him into business with his business. And so for a number of years, he was um, active in this business of—it was men's wear. And um, when he retired in his late sixties I guess it was, he started to paint again. And that's what he wanted to show me, his paintings from the '70s and '80s. But then he pulled out his stuff from the '30s. And his work was wonderful. I mean, it was right out of the Depression. Water colors, monoprints and paintings, oil paintings.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Did you decide to show him?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, yes. Of course I showed him.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  It was a dear friend.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  David Levine. David P. Levine.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  That's so interesting.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, this is a William Brice. Correct? [00:38:00] No.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  This? No. This is a Peter Krasnow.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  That's Peter Krasnow. Okay.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Bill Brice I just—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  That's so interesting because—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I know.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Can you see the connection to William Brice's work in this piece?


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  In the shapes? I've never seen Bill Brice quite—you know. I was—I'm not totally insane.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  [Laughs.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  But anyways. What is the Peter Krasnow?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, this is actually four little paintings that he made a frame for and he put them all together.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  [Laughs.] They range in execution date.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Let's see. It's called Forward One between 1956 and 1963. All four of them. So I mostly have his works from the uh, '50s and '60s. Yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, a major figure. Did you ever know him?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. I did not know him. He died in 1976, two years before Lorser did and before I was really involved with the community in that way.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And how did you become to be involved with this particular piece, but other pieces?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Actually, um, I believe I bought this from Jake. Now, Jake knew him, of course. Everybody knew Jake. I believe that that's part of my collection. And I think that that is um, from Josephine and Jake. I mean, it was after Jake died.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  She really, along the way, you've also bought things that you liked, just—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, yes.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  But very, very little because I didn't want to compete with my clients. What I would do is if I really like something and if I had a show, and if in the course of three months, four months it hadn't sold, then I would sort of feel free to acquire it and to bring it home. [00:40:06]


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Bought it [inaudible].Yeah. I don't know.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, what about the—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Emerson Woelffer?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Yes. The irrepressible Emerson Woelffer?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, I always liked [loud siren] Emerson Woelffer.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And he would uh, come—he was a good friend of—well, Leonard Edmondson was one of my, also my close friends. And Leonard was the first one that came to my gallery. And I represented his collection. And with him came his friend, Ynez Johnston.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And then Emerson Woelffer was the part of the trio. So all three of them, you know, were the very, very closest of friends. And so uh, Emerson was just a dear man. And I had his prints from Tamarind—the '60s. He was active in Tamarind in the '60s, see? So was Ynez Johnston.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And Edmondson, too?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. Edmondson's medium was really etching. And Tamarind was lithography. But both Emerson and um, Ynez did lithographs for June Wayne. Although, funny story for June—for Ynez Johnston. She really did a couple of series at Tamarind. But she didn't like lithography. So after she finished two series, she finally said, "I'm satisfied. I know that this is not my medium."


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And she went back to her etchings. Her etchings are wonderful. [00:42:00]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Oh, her etchings are really what—well, they're so much more in tune with what she does—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —through drawing and painting.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And she also did some woodcuts that were very nice. Very rarely because that, again, was not her favorite medium.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  All those teeny little lines.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, did you ever have a relationship with um, June—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  June Wayne?


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Harwood?


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, June Harwood was part of that group of the Four Abstract Classicists.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  But um, I think I showed—I might have shown June's work here at one time, but I never had a relationship with her. She was a widow of Henry Seldis. And Henry Seldis' writings, I hung on his words. He was a fine critic.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. No. She was married to uh—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Henry Seldis.




TOBEY C. MOSS:  Uh, yes. She was married to Jules Langsner.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. Wait a second now.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Jules Langsner I think you mean.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No, no. I mean Jules Langsner. You're absolutely right. Because it was Jules who put the Four Abstract Classicists together.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So she [June Harwood] was widowed with Jules Langsner.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  But she was I think also involved with Henry Seldis at one point?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. I crossed wires there.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Okay. And uh, he was actually a very fine critic. But you—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And he liked the Four Abstract Classicists.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, yes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Oh, yes. Of course he did.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  He liked all those artists.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Well, he coined the term, didn't he?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Was he what?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  He coined the hard-edge abstraction term, did he not?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Jules Langsner did that. Jules Langsner created that term, the Four Abstract Classicists. He put on the show at Claremont. [00:44:00]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. But even though your thinking was '30s onward, these people all had been working since the '30s, even though at this point their work was all geometric.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And they contributed to the history of art in California, in Los Angeles. I mean, the San Francisco school was also very exciting, but I had to put blinders on because this was my territory. This was my focus. I only would do what I could do.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And those guys who are now considered so extraordinary, the abstract classicists, were there also a lot of prints for you to work in that group?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. No, no.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  It was all paintings.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Again, um, John McLaughlin made prints at Tamarind. Uh, Fred Hammersley, I'm not sure that he made prints at that time for June Wayne. I can check it, but he did do some prints later. And Jules Engel did lithographs there, and for Gemini, for Tamarind and Gemini. And um, Karl Benjamin did not do any prints. And Fred—as I say, Fred did not consider himself a printmaker.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Lorser did screen printing. He [did do lithographs ‑TM]. Yes. Yes, he did. Back in the '30s he did for the Federal Arts Project. He was involved with it. He was one of the directors of the Federal Arts Project under Stanton Macdonald-Wright. But he did not do any prints uh, from that point on until he did some screen printing in the '70s, the early '70s.  [00:46:02] Or late '60s with um, Gene Gill? Or what is the—no. There was an artist, a printer. And he and Helen both made screen prints with him.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, you said at the beginning that you really hung on his every word. At the beginning you said that hung on his every word of Lorser Feitelson's uh—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  But he died. He died before I opened.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I know. But you knew him before you opened. You knew him at—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Sure. I knew him from Jake's.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —Jakes, right? So you knew him for four or five years.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, three years.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  I came to Jake in early '72, I think it was. And I left in in ['76 ‑TM].


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Or maybe '73.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —what was that relationship like? Lorser Feitelson—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Lorser and Helen?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —and Helen. Yeah. How would you characterize it?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, well, for Helen, Lorser was the beginning and the end. Uh, for Lorser, he dearly loved Helen, though he had been quite a womanizer earlier. I've—that was sort of um, well‑known. But Helen, that was her man.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  But was he faithful to Helen once he got together with her?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I think so. Yeah. I would think so. Sure.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And Helen, after he died, what was Helen—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, Helen sort of retreated. And everybody said, "Oh, he was the Svengali." [00:48:00] Or the creator who stimulated her. She thereupon turned around and did a magnificent series that—I mean, for the next decade she painted.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  What was the next series that she did after he passed away?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  She did some Grey Interiors that are in the best collections.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Mm-hmm. And then she did some other Arcanums and landscapes. So. She proved that she was not his—dependent upon him.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And do you think she knew that? She had to do that?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Did she have to do that?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Do you think she knew that—that she felt that she had prove that she was not just dependent upon him?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, that, in addition to the fact that she was an artist and wanted to create. Sure. She was quite cognizant of the fact that people said she's going to dry up. She didn't.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Where did she live?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Over on Third Street.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  —Sweetzer. In the storefront.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  That's where she lived? Is that where she lived when she was with Lorser Feitelson? Did they have an apartment there or was that just their studio?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  It was both. They lived [laughs] extremely sparely.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, my impression would have been that they had money from the sales of their art because was he not very successful?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, he was a very—a success artist—also he was a teacher.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Arts Center College.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And he also had a TV show.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And he did TV shows. Right.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  It wasn't because of money. It was because this is the way they lived. They grew up in the Depression.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And this was all they needed. [00:50:01]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So they lived very modestly on Third and Sweetzer.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Very modestly. Very, very, very modestly.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Hmm. A different world.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  A different world. Right.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, we can't underestimate it, you know. What else can you tell me about you, your gallery, something I haven't thought to ask? One thing I should ask is Allen involved in your gallery at all?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No. He was very busy in his law practice. But then he retired about uh, oh, five or six years ago. Although he still has some clients that won't let him go.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Um, but he's—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And what kind of law does he do?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Real estate law. Probates. Things like that. That's always been his specialty. That's why he became an attorney because as a real estate broker, he found out he was not satisfied with the contracts that were being written. And he would rewrite them until he decided he better go back and do this formally.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  So that's when he went back to school. He graduated when he was 50.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  [Laughs.] You're two late bloomers, you.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. [Laughs.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  That's very sweet. But is there something I'm not asking? I feel like—is there anything I have left unsaid or some query I haven't made?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I really don't—I just have had wonderful experiences. I haven't even told you some of the artists, like Dorr Bothwell. Wonderful, lovely lady. Or um—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You can tell me. We can go on and on.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Palmer Schoppe.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, tell me about Dorr Bothwell.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And Nick Brigante. I mean, these were wonderful friends of mine. [Laughs.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, Dorr Bothwell's an amazing artist. [00:52:00]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. Dorr was uh, a free spirit from the '20s. And um, I simply met her work when I was driving up to Santa Rosa to one of my sons, and stopped in Petaluma for a glass of orange juice, a piece of cheese. And was poking around a book store and I saw a drawing. And I really liked the drawing and it was very, very inexpensive. And so I bought it and I said I wonder who this is. It was Dorr Bothwell. And um, I thought it was a man. And um, so I decided to go and find who this was. And I found out it was a woman. And I found out that she lived up in Mendocino.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And um, I sought her out. And she was just a wonderful person. And she had so many stories and so many uh, as I say, she was a real Bohemian. She lived—she was married briefly to Donald Hord, H-O-R-D, a sculptor. This was about 1930, '31, '32. She said, "Until one morning I woke up, looked across the bed and said, 'What am I doing married?'"


TOBEY C. MOSS:  So she got up and she left.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And that was just her style. She was just irrepressible. She had spent some time in Samoa studying [Native –TM] Indian customs. I mean, the Samoan customs. She also had been a student of Gottardo Piazzoni in San Francisco. She was originally a San Franciscan. [00:53:59] And when she came—when she left Donald Hord down in San Diego, she came to Los Angeles and she um, helped out at the Federal Arts Project. Met Lorser and Helen.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And kept herself together selling a little bit of artwork. And, as I say, with the Federal Arts Project. And uh, painting.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And then she was down here living?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  She was down here till the early '40s. And then she moved back up north.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  That's why she made the cut into the gallery because she had been here in the '30s and '40s.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  That's right.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  I've got a wonderful painting of hers up there on the wall. Of her and her brother as children.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Nick. [Laughs.] Uh, Nick was a fixture in Southern California. And he also was one of those people who had been here from uh, beginning of the century and had worked with Hanson Puthuff doing murals on the sides of barns.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  What's the name again?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Hanson Puthuff.




TOBEY C. MOSS:  And then he went away to the army. Uh, before that, he had joined the Art Students League of Los Angeles. Rex Slinkard—


TOBEY C. MOSS:  —was one of the early members of the Art Students League. [00:55:59] And he and Nick were very, very, very close friends. And then Nick went off to the army. And while he was gone, Nick caught the flu and died. I mean Rex Slinkard died in that flu epidemic of 1918, 1919. And when Nick came back from the war, he rejoined the Art Students League. By that time, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, who had been pushed out of Europe, he and Morgan Russell. Uh, he came back to California because it turns out he was a California boy. And he—it was very imperious and very directorial. And he organized an exhibition for the Art Students League members. And they called it A Group of Independent Artists. And it was—included Nick, and included Stanton Macdonald-Wright. But it also included Thomas Hart Benton and um, Vaclav Vytlacil. I can't remember which one of them. One of them. And a lot of other artists that were not necessarily from California.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Were simply called the Group of Independent Artists. It took place downtown in one of the office buildings. And it was so independent that after the show was over, they all dispersed.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Never more to be seen. And uh, Nick Brigante and Stan remained friendly enemies for the rest of their lives. Nick and Stan argued to the point that in 1923, Nick took his bride and went off to New York. [00:58:04] And he was um, welcomed in New York. And he showed alongside of John Marin and Charles Burchfield. And um—but he showed successful there in the Daniels Gallery I think it was or the Neue Galerie. But they didn't like New York. So they came back by 1925, and they bought a little house up in the Hollywood Hills where he lived till he died. She died I believe in the '30s. Or maybe the '40s. I don't remember when she died. And he called it his "little rinconcito."


TOBEY C. MOSS:  His little rancho.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, he taught here.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No, no. He never taught.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Nick? No. He just made art.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  I don't think he taught. No. I don't think so. And uh, he just simply made art. And he lived up there very quietly, nice little house, very modestly again. You know, these artists didn't really pay much attention to material things.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, in those days, it was considered, you would so wrong to have been interested in—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, that's how I felt when I first was invited to come to Jake Zeitlin's. I couldn't talk about art, selling art and putting monetary values on art. That was just, you know, not right. [01:00:00] But I realized that that wasn't true.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  [Laughs.] Well, in the '60s had past, a lot of ideas had changed about that.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I had my lesson early at Jake's because when I first came to Jake's I would do research. And I remember one time I had a couple of Rembrandt prints. And Jake had a great um, research library of old art catalogues, auction catalogues, catalogues from dealers all around the world. I mean, Europe and the United States. That was the world. And um, so I was to research the market for these two images. And so I went back to sales of the '19s, '20 and on and tracked the market of those two Rembrandt prints.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And I realized that right after a war, the market was gone.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Right before a war, the market was up. There were different economic factors at play, different political factors at play. And so I was able to chart that. And it taught me great lessons about marketing, uh and art's place in the market.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Hmm. Well, you must have seen also that um, art goes up.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Not necessarily.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  All—not all art goes up, but a lot of art, with a certain degree of pedigree behind it, that if you just wait—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Sometimes.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  There are waves of people in—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I don't think a Damien Hirst, I don't think his art is going to last another century. [01:02:01]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  It's going to be indicative of a period of hedon—

[END OF TRACK moss13_2of2_track02.]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  —hedonism. Jeff Koons the same way. They're simply historical figures. But aesthetic figures?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Hmm. But when you see Rem—well, Rembrandt's a telling story. Rembrandt himself who goes through—


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  —Rembrandt himself who goes through such extraordinary ups and downs in his lifetime with regard to the market.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  But he—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  And the value of his own work.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  But he made a contribution.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  I mean, well, when you think about the contribution in art history, you think of Rembrandt. You think of Goya. You think of Whistler. Those people made history. The history of many of the artists of this last 40, 50 years is very much hyped. Very often a curator will develop a relationship with an artist and make a big hype. And 15 years later, you can't find the work except in the basement. And I doubt that it will emerge. And there's lots of art that simply was very nice, representative of a period, but it's not going to have a market that's going to, as you point out, go up.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. But these works that you've been showing have um, they have had fallow periods, and really now have come back with great strength—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, because they—


TOBEY C. MOSS:  They have a basis. If you looked at a whole show of Peter Krasnow's work, it's very idiosyncratic. Very, very different. And he doesn't fit. He's like a sore thumb. But his work is fascinating. This is, I would say, is a minor piece. [00:02:01]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Now, Peter Krasnow did not live here his whole—

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, yes, he did.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, no, no. He came from Russia. He came from Russia in 1907 to Boston. And from there he went to—wait a second, am I getting mixed up? No. I'm not. I'm right. From Boston, he went to a relative briefly for a couple of years. And then he moved to Chicago. And he was a maintenance man at the Art Institute of Chicago in exchange for going to the school, the Art Institute School. And he graduated from it in 1916. And um, painted very uh, genre-esque paintings. They were very interesting, very nice. And um, he went to New York in 1921 or 1920, '21 to make it to the scene. New York was the scene. And there he was befriended by Edward Weston. And they really bonded. And Edward Weston said, "Come west." And he um, said, "When you come to California, look me up." And uh, that's what he did. He came across country, he and his wife, his bride from Chicago. And they drove across country in a flivver, stopping off to visit a little while with Mabel Dodge. And then came to Los Angeles where Edward Weston took him under his wing and sold him a portion of his land next to his house over in Atwater District. [00:04:03]


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And um, Peter built his house, his redwood house that he and Rose lived in until she died in the '90s. He died in [1979 ‑TM]. No. Did he die in '87 or '89? I can't remember now.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So you had a relationship with him.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, yes. He died in '70—this is not right. Nineteen, yes—he died in '79. I had a short relationship with him. I met him when he had a show at the Hebrew Union College um, which was down at USC. And there was a show of his work. And I don't know how I happened to go to it, but I wanted to meet him because I had heard about him through Lorser and Helen. He was a friend of Lorser and Helen's. Lorser and Helen were sort of a meeting place for a lot of the artists because they were stable. Peter Krasnow was a dreamer. And uh, Ben Berlin was—befuddled through alcohol. And Knud Merrild was not very successful as an artist, but as a house painter.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And Ejnar Hansen the same thing. So Lorser and Helen presented a stable unit. And many people came to Lorser and Helen. And that's how I met him. That's how I met Peter Krasnow. And um, then he died just a couple of years later. [00:05:59] But by that time, I had visited with him a couple of times. And I had some of his art. And when he died, um, they turned to me. Alan [Sieroty] um—he was a councilman in Los Angeles.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Oh. Alan um—oh, god. I know exactly who you mean.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And the family owned the building down at um—the British—the Columbia building. The Eastern Columbia building. And so they had—he was an executor for it. And he moved the estate down to the Eastern Columbia building into a couple of the office spaces. And I was called in to um, organize it and to sell the paintings. And to donate paintings to different organizations, different institutions.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, one of the studios held three big shipping boxes, the Bekins boxes that were about five feet tall, about five feet square. And, no. Yeah. About five foot square. Big boxes. And in it were piles of wood. Piles of [wooden pieces ‑TM]. And I said, you know, "What am I supposed to do with this?" And he said, "Well, these are sculptures." And I had to go and find out the formula. I have one piece here in the gallery for you to see.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You mean you had to put them together.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  You had to assemble them.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  It took me a couple of years, but I was—slowly found his technique. [00:08:05] I have only one piece. It's one that's over here. Let me show you.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I'd like to see it. Yes.

[Audio break.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  So you were saying that when you figured out the sculptures and Peter Krasnow had the big box for all—like actually big puzzle pieces that had to be fitted together, and one of them had like 30 pieces.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Thirty-three pieces.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Thirty-three pieces.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And the way—the reason I was able to finally be satisfied that this was complete was because I saw an image of it. It was taken for Arts & Architecture magazine. Do you know that magazine?


TOBEY C. MOSS:  All right. It was an issue and Peter Krasnow was featured. And there was a shot of his studio. And in the studio I saw this piece.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  That's very exciting.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, very, very exciting. So it turns out that Peter would code inside [phone rings]—

[Audio break.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I love this story about the Peter Krasnow sculptures in the boxes. So he had coded the sculpture pieces to fit together. And you were able to figure it out how to put them back together.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I figured out the code. And also, I got confirmation of them finally by some sketches. He did drawings. And he—and as I say, that photograph. So, I put it all together. At any rate, he was—and he also—I had his paintings for sale. And I would go over there and we would talk about them. And I'd say—and he didn't title them. He put K for Krasnow, dash number seven. [00:10:03] And then he'd put the year. K-7-1972, whatever it was. And um, I said, you know, "Let's give them some titles. Otherwise, people are just going to put their titles on your paintings." So he would say, "Okay. What would you call this?" And I would say um, blah blah blah. I don't know. And he would say, "No, no, no, no. That's called Hasidim Dancing." Or, "This is Hasids Praying."


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Hasids.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Oh, Hasids. Like Hasidic.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Hasidic. Yeah.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Hasidic. Hasids Praying. Okay.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And you know, or he would figure out things like that. He would make titles like that. But we didn't do enough of those.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  But he said, you know, "You get the idea. So just do it."


TOBEY C. MOSS:  So usually I've done the titling. Now I would say K so and so. And then in parentheses I would say, "Life Line." He showed me in his work that he has life lines going through his work that um—and so I would look for the life line. He told me how to read his work. He said, "You don't look at my—" Now, these are not good examples because they don't carry it through as much. The first one and the fourth one are more like his work because he said, "You can't look at my painting and say the important part of it is in the middle." He said, "You have to start at some point and then just go around the painting, and come back, and around, until you come—" So.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I've always liked his work. So uh, I love the story.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  You know, he was very—[00:12:00] When he came from Europe and when he went to Chicago, he was really not wanting to be Jewish. He was not observant at all. However, his wife, Rose, was a teacher of Hebrew so that when they came to California, she became—actually became a secretary in a temple, and a teacher, while he did make a good living as a portraitist. Did some very wonderful portraits. But he really um, he didn't have what you would call a flavor, a Jewish flavor in his work. And all the way through the—and then he got a Guggenheim in 1930—about 1930, '32. And uh, he went with Rose to the Dordogne region for a couple of years, coming back only when his friend, Edward Weston—they were corresponding—said to him, "It's time for you to get out of Europe." And Peter said, "I feel it already."


TOBEY C. MOSS:  So he came home in '34.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And uh, when he came home from Europe, came back home, and of course, they had been gone for three or four years, and his yard was completely overgrown. That's when he started to clear the yard because Rose wanted a garden, a kitchen garden like she had had in France. And as he began to fell trees, it grieved him. And he felt that he could feel the tree. And that's when he began to take the trunks of those trees that he felled and began to shape them. And the forms emerged.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And so some of his sculptures are very, very or—most of them are very organic.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And so this mostly took place in the '30s because by the '40s, he began to paint again. He always did some sculpture, though. He did—in the '20s, he did some sculpture. He did some panels for a temple ark. And he did a panel for a um, a dining hall I think it was in USC.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  He carved panels. And then, as I say, in the '30s, he carved and shaped, and released the forms of these trees that he had felled. And then he began to paint again so that by the time of the Arts & Architecture magazine, the arts studies—what was it?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Arts & Architecture. Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Arts & Architecture magazine. But there was another term that was used.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Case Study. Thank you very much. Some of his paintings were um, part of the Case Study houses.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And they became very geometric. And um, but slowly, he began to become more organic again. And that's what you're seeing here. Figures appeared that are almost calligraphic from the Hebrew alphabet, the aleph-bet. [00:15:53] And also he began to um, have the lifeline, and to have relationship to things from his background, his Jewish background that were never quote, overt, but were part of his figuration. He only was abstract. But the figuration you could read into. Like, I have a painting in the other room that looks like a priestly benediction, but the forms are—only if you use your imagination. Yeah. So. But he was a very interesting man. Very um, short, short-tempered. And he did not like to belabor points.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. [Laughs.]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And Rose would placate him and say, "Oh, no, no." You know, she would interject. And he tried to—she would start to talk and he would push her aside. He did not let her talk. And she was really a writer and a poet. So after he died, a good five years that we um, I knew her until she passed away. But she was a sweet lady.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, didn't he have children?



TOBEY C. MOSS:  No children. But he had uh—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I think I'm confusing him with somebody else. I must be because I was—I am. I'm confusing his life with somebody else's.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, why don't we talk more after you've had time to think about other stories you'd like to share with me?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, I don't know.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  If you'd like. If you're tired.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  What? Am I tired?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  I'm never tired of talking. [Laughs.]


TOBEY C. MOSS:  But you have to run out of tape some time.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  No. We're good. You know, we can go. [00:18:00] We can keep talking. You can tell more stories if you want to. I mean, I don't want to over—exhaust you.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, you're not exhausting me. There's nobody calling on the telephone, is there? There are some things that I have to do on the computer, but aside from that, um, I have to get a shipment out to the Boston Museum.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. Um, I mean there's so many people that I've met. Ruth Asawa.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Lovely, wonder—

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Who just passed away. Yes.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yes. She just passed away. But she was also a very, very dear. And uh, just all the people that—I don't have any live artists anymore, aside from Betye.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And Ynez.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Lee Mullican's gone. Emerson Woelffer's gone. Everybody's gone.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Well, Lee Mullican must have been a lively character for you to know. Did you know Lee Mullican very well?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, we weren't bosom buddies, but we certainly liked each other. We knew each other, yes. And I visited his studio with him. And I've sold his work.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Um, he was a very, very nice person. Very courtly.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Very—did you know him?

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I did not know him I'm sorry to say.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. He was a very nice gentleman. Somebody I should mention is Ed Biberman. Do you know who Ed Biberman is?


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, back in 1969, I was a member of—I still a member of Temple Israel of Hollywood. And um, they were going to think of ways to raise funding for their school. And so at that point I was interested in—beginning to be interested in art. And I said, "Well, I will be glad to help you make an art exhibit." I should have had my head examined. [00:20:01]


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Because I really didn't know what to do, how to do it. And Ed Biberman heard about me and my dilemma. And he came over and he said, "Tobey, I'll help you." And he was another wonderful, wonderful gentleman. And he was so wonderful. He introduced me to the artists of Southern California, uh, emerging artists and artists of all around, landscapists, Paul Lauritz. And um, I can't even remember the names anymore. So we put on a show called Joy in Art. And Esther Lewis made a special screen print, a magnificent one that we gave as a patron's gift to those who spent $50 dollars to come to the affair. [Laughs.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mmm. And her name was Esther Lewis?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Esther Lewis. L-E-W-I-S. She was also a member of Temple Israel. And uh, he was my guide. He showed me how to set up the forms for accepting art, and how to hang it, and how to put out a list, and what details to do, and keep track of everything. I never could have done it. Never, never, never without Ed Biberman.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  So those are the kinds of people that you just—you treasure those kinds of memories.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  He was a good painter.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Ed? Yes.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  Great painter. From the time of the Federal Arts Project, the Depression days.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. [00:22:00]

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Yeah. But he was also a teacher. And he was one of those persons that built a community, an art community. You know, he put people together.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Boris Deutsch we had in that show. And um, oh, I can't remember the names of the people we had. But we had a very nice show. Oh, what's his name? A primitive. Harry Lieberman I think his name was. A primitive who really had a very good following.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  And somebody else. Fritz Faiss. F-A-I-S-S. A painter, landscapist. But we just had—I must have had 50 artists in that show. And I mean, once Ed put the word out, everybody wanted to be in the show. It was a very successful show.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Now, are you a very religious person?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  No, I'm not ver—this is a reform congregation. And I very much value my heritage. But I'm not very observant of all the rules and such. Tomorrow is Yom Kippur. I'm very much observant of Yom Kippur and we do fast on Yom Kippur. And I do, um. [00:24:00] I'm a member. I'm a full member and have been since my 62-year-old son was uh, about seven years old.


TOBEY C. MOSS:  So we are faithful members. I believe in supporting the community. And they have a fine school there.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative].

TOBEY C. MOSS:  And I do cook Jewish food. My mother was a great cook.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Were you close to your mother?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  My mother unfortunately died when I was just uh, I was married two years. I was 22 or 23. But yes. I was close to her. But I had already lived in Chicago for a year or two. You know how it is with teenage daughters and mothers. Teenage daughters don't want mothers hanging around. So the last couple of years, I really wasn't even around. But then of course, we had a wedding. And she loved—she saw my baby.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Ah, good. And she must have liked Allen.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  She must have liked Allen.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  She did.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I mean, she must have known him because you'd known each other for so long.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Exactly. [Laughs.]

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  That's wonderful. And how about your father? Were you close to your father?

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Oh, yes. He lived uh, until—I think he died before I opened the gallery. So he died in the late '70s. I was already working. [00:26:00] But um, I would love to have had him and my mother see me operating a gallery. My father would be delighted, with business sense. And my mother was—she was just so involved. And she also had business sense. And they would really get a kick out of it. When I was going to high school, I wanted to take a um, college prep course, classes. She says, "That's fine, but you also take EBT, elementary business training."


TOBEY C. MOSS:  So I can do shorthand and bookkeeping and typing. And I was very good at all three of them. I use my shorthand today.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  I wish I had that. [Laughter] I didn't think I'd need all those skills, but in fact you do need those skills.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  They are handy.

HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  They're handy skills to have.


HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP:  Better than learning how to sew. Well, I think I'm wrapped up for the moment. And—but we can do another session if you come up—if you think you'd like to. I'm always open to that.

TOBEY C. MOSS:  Well, it's really up—

[END OF TRACK moss12_2of2_track02.]


How to Use This Collection

Transcript is available on the Archives of American Art's website.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Tobey C. Moss, 2013 September 12. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.