Arts and Entertainment

Painter has a brush with destiny

For new islander Elizabeth Moga, relocating to Bainbridge means coming home.

After getting a masters degree in fine art from Washington University in 1984, Moga had left painting to work in the food service industry.

By moving into a space offered by Bainbridge relatives, Moga has streamlined her life to paint again.

She shows her first new work in five years at the Filipino American Hall during this year’s Winter Studio Tour 2001, which begins Friday.

Moga is one of 13 new artists and studios added this year to the Tour, which is sponsored by the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council.

Moga also has an exhibition in a rental space on Winslow Way she has dubbed “The Six Week Gallery.”

“Even when I couldn’t do it, painting was like a limb attached to me that I couldn’t ignore,” Moga said.

For Moga, being forced away from art by an increasingly demanding career was painful.

But, like most artists who earn masters degrees – the degree that qualifies artists to teach at the university level – she had found that there were few tenure track teaching jobs.

“When I was looking for jobs,” Moga said, “there were only 10 jobs listed across the whole country.”

Moga joined the ranks of that year’s thousand new fine arts graduate school grads, of whom only one in 100 would find work teaching.

“I waited on tables,” Moga said. “I worked at Marriotts. My family thought I was crazy.”

Moga rose through the food service ranks to become food service director for a nursing home and hospital near Chicago.

The job was well-paid and high-pressure.

The only problem was that Moga couldn’t paint.

Trying to combine dual careers -- the practical job supporting the art – is one artist survival strategy.

Some artists find, however, that the energy level and focus required to keep both on the track are tougher to maintain as years pass. They may find that one career overtakes the other.

For Moga, the strong desire to make art would prove more compelling than a steady paycheck.

“I had worked to the point where I was capable of saying ‘life’s too short,’” she said.

Coming back to art means that she has to find her way again, however, and that can take time.

Moga has completed about a dozen garden paintings in a semi-abstract style with splashes of bright color throughout.

“Right now I’m really exploring the paint,” Moga said, “It’s very different for me not to have a paying job and to trust that where I’m going is good. It’s been a wonderful process, so far.”

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The BIAHC’s Winter Studio Tour 2001 runs 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 30, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 1, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 2.

Call 842-8129 or visit www.bistudiotour.com for more information.

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