Michael Moody remembered his finger paintings hanging on the walls of the old Everson Museum on the North Side. Since those art classes when he was five, he said, he has been creating images. Next he got a Kodak Brownie Fiesta box camera from his mother. He has taken thousands of pictures over the years, which really started him on his artistic journey.
While in high school, Mike shot photos for “the Liberated Voice,” a local newspaper focusing on the African-American community. He continued his photography while attending Florida A&M University, working on the newspaper and yearbook. While there he photographed and interviewed such notables as Patti LaBelle, the Temptations and the late James Brown. Click Here for a Gallery of Michael’s Art
After receiving his BFA, he returned to Syracuse and started his first job, teaching with the Syracuse City School District. A call from a college friend lured him to California, where he studied for a Master’s degree in education administration at San Jose State. He rode the highways on the back of a motorcycle, and earned belts in Tae Kwon Do.
If there was something Mike loved as much as art, it was his motorcycle. As the weather cleared he looked forward to getting out on the open road.
Taking in as many art galleries as possible, from Los Angeles to Sacramento, Mike was inspired to take his art more seriously. After seven years he returned to Syracuse.
“My hard work has paid off to a degree,” he said, reflecting on exhibits in over 100 art shows and several write ups in the Stars sections of the Post Standard. In 2004 he won a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts to do research, studying in galleries in New York City.
From the local Westcott Cultural Festival and Ploughshares Arts and Crafts Festival to the Atlanta Black Arts Festival and the Philadelphia Art Expo, Mike consistently exhibited what he called “black art with an urban contemporary flair”. He has murals on city buildings and private property, the most popular on the corner where South Beech Street runs into Westcott Street.
The Westcott Street Mural has become a gateway welcoming people to the commercial district. Of the mural images, one depicts a deceased longtime owner of a corner store. At one point it was suggested that a window be placed in the wall to allow more light into the host building. Residents were clear, “leave the mural alone”.
Michael Moody’s passing leaves a legacy of art, a legacy he always reminded people of when marketing his work. He encouraged people to collect art.
Now, his legacy is the array of murals, paintings, drawings, photographs, including a collection of comics produced for Urban CNY/The Constitution illustrating a written piece or stand along satire.
During our last conversation he said, “I found my collection of comics I produced for you, I have to show you.” We laughed about the content and he talked about getting ready for the Art on Parade Show, “time to get these ready for the show, I have a few things to finish.”
Less than a week later he was gone. In his absence he’s left a part of himself on every piece of art he’s ever produced. His legacy, his final gift to the community, his vibrant color filled images that brightened our lives and will continue in perpetuity.