The artwork of P. Buckley Moss is seen by thousands of visitors each year here in the Valley at her museum in Waynesboro, Va.
Her artwork is also displayed in over 200 galleries worldwide, and the P. Buckley Moss Foundation for Children's Education has raised millions of dollars to promote art as a classroom teaching resource, particularly for children with learning disabilities. The museum has been open to the public for more than 20 years.
Moss clearly shares a kinship with children with learning problems, having herself had to struggle with dyslexia when she was a girl. Her personal philosophy is simple: “The ancient proposition of the triumph of beauty and truth over injustice.”
Although the P. Buckley Moss Museum was built in 1989, the home-like building resembles the type of 19th century farmhouse that had been popular among early Shenandoah Valley settlers. It currently houses a permanent collection of P. Buckley Moss artwork as well as retrospectives of Moss's life and art. Much of the art on display reflects her “Valley style,” according to museum curator Bonnie Stump in a 2011 interview.
“People recognize her Valley style, but she also has a modernist style, which is a bit of influence from Picasso and some of the other cubists that have inspired her,” said Stump. “She likes Modigliani, so you'll see a lot of very long, vertical necks on the horses and the people she paints.”
Patricia Buckley Moss first moved from New York to the Shenandoah Valley with her husband, Jack Moss, in 1964. After raising a family here, she now also owns a home at Mathews, located in tidewater Virginia. Her company headquarters is also located in Mathews.
Stump said that Moss initially began to draw during her girlhood. At that time, dyslexia had contributed to her learning problems in school. She was later sent to a private school that allowed her to focus on developing her artistic skill and she later received training at the prestigious Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York.
She has since earned worldwide recognition and her artwork now hangs in galleries throughout the U.S. During 2011, Moss made appearances in a number of East Coast states as well as in the Midwest. Her bold, clean style of art particularly appeals to Amish and Mennonite communities and many of the paintings that hang at the Waynesboro museum reflect that connection.
“A lot of Pat's work has to do with symbolism, Stump explained. “So the Amish and the Mennonites are painted in a generic way. And what they represent are all the good qualities, like devotion to faith and family, hard work, a good work ethic, participation in community and all of those kinds of things that really symbolize a traditional lifestyle.” So you won't see dark themes in the work of P. Buckley Moss. It's all about the positive, or what Stump refers to as “happy painting.”
As her career became successful Moss maintained a lifelong identity and association with learning-disabled kids. She shares her own, personal triumph over her academic failures in school after she discovered and began to use her innate talent. She has spent a long time visiting schools to promote the use of art in the classroom as an alternate way of teaching. Her foundation now endeavors to continue sharing a message of inspiration to kids with learning problems.
“In other words, take the talents that you have and become successful with that,” Stump said. “That's her message, really.”
The P. Buckley Moss Museum has attracted as many 45,000 visitors in a year from all over the world, as well as from the Valley. A 100,000-visitor milestone was reached a few year ago. There is no admission charge. The museum is also popular with Asian visitors, possibly because of how the “less is more” visual form some of Moss's work is similar to the style of Japanese art.
The museum also hosts a number of special events each year, including four scheduled Barn Show visits by Moss. She appears at The Barn, a former apple-packing building that had converted into a home, to sign artwork for collectors and museum shop customers and to provide an opportunity for people to meet her in person.
The museum grounds are located just off Interstate 64 at the Waynesboro city limits and a few miles east of Staunton, Va. and I-81. The museum is normally open Mondays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, although it stays open an extra hour during Barn Show events. “So everyone can come, because we have plenty of hours,” Stump said. “We hardly ever close, even for holidays. But we'd love to see some people come on by.”
For more information about the P. Buckley Moss Museum, visit PbuckleyMossMuseum.com.
Photos and story by Hank Zimmerman, copyright ©2011 by Shenandoah Valley Productions LLC