Making Friends

Tue. August 22, 2006 12:00 AM
by Jason Paul

Making Friends

Paul Moschell gives life to his imaginary world at the Mars Gallery

As a child, Indiana-based artist Paul Moschell, knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up. When questioned by his grade-school teacher, Moschell did not hesitate in answering, "A mermaid." Yet when said teacher informed him that was not a possibility, Moschell then decided to become an artist. If the fantastic world he aspired to live in did not exist, he would create his own—in high-pigment watercolor on archival paper—and happily reside there.

At the Mars Gallery this past August 19, Moschell’s fantastic vision was realized at his Chicago gallery opening, Portraits from a Birdcage. Benefiting the no-kill Red Door Animal Shelter and featuring 26 new paintings and 500 limited edition posters, feathers draped the floor with a crowd consisting of glam rock pussy cats, emo lesbians, facially pierced gay punk rockers and uppity art buyers. It seemed Mochell’s world of individual thought and self-imposed exile sprouted life and found a community.

This likely came as no surprise to Moschell, who already finds solidarity in his portraits of obscure and despondent people. "I didn't make friends well as a child," says Moschell, 36, of growing up in a traditional family with a minister father. "I drew on my folders [in school] all the time. That's where I made my friends ... They come from my imagination."

And much like true friends, Moschell sees his imaginative depictions as live entities that both accept and support him: "My portraits are odd and lonely and beautiful ...When I wake up, the first thing I do is go to my studio space to revisit what consumed me the night before. [My paintings] are always there. They challenge me to be better and accept me as a beautiful creature, as I accept them."

Moschell admits to not readily engaging the world outside his studio. "I have no interest in dealing with reality," he says. A full time artist, when not painting Moschell spends time the majority of his free time, "eating and taking naps." However, joking aside, Moschell enjoys his time with his 11-year-old son, whom he had with his former wife before their divorce and Moschell’s coming out.

"My son has Tourettes Syndrome," Moschell shares, "it makes him a little different. Just like me and just like I was, so we are perfect for one another. He loves my work and my lifestyle and is an amazingly open-minded boy. I am so proud of him every day."

View Photos from the event

Catch a glimpse inside the open mind of Artist Paul Moschell at the Mars Gallery, 1139 W Fulton Market, Chicago. Paintings from a Birdcage will be on exhibit until September 7. For more information, visit www.marsgallery.com. More on the Artist at www.blackrabbitboy.com.