Western and Pop Adventures Come to Life at Arizona Fine Art Expo
Writer Sue Kern-Fleischer
Photography Courtesy of Arizona Fine Art EXPO
He’s a cowboy at heart on an adventure full of imagination, ranging from dragons and stormtroopers to Hollywood icons, wildlife and western heroes. He’s been a big draw at Comicon, but he also has a strong following of western art collectors. He draws, paints and sculpts with a fierce passion and he constantly pushes himself to learn more.
Acclaimed artist Monte M. Moore returns to the Arizona Fine Art EXPO for a third year, bringing his vivid imagination and diverse fine art to the popular 10-week show.
Known as Arizona’s premier venue for collecting fine art, the Arizona Fine Art EXPO runs daily from Jan. 10 through March 22 under the festive white tents on the southwest corner of Scottsdale and Jomax roads in North Scottsdale. The event features 124 patron-friendly artist studios within a 44,000-square-foot space, where guests have a rare chance to meet the artists, see them in action and learn about their passion, inspiration and techniques.
From Cattle to Comicon
Moore was born in Phoenix, but he spent much of his childhood and teen years living and working on his family’s 30,000-acre ranch in Idaho.
“My family has been in the cattle and ranching business for more than 100 years,” Moore says. “Our working cattle ranch was in a remote area along the Snake River on the border of Oregon. We spent 12 hours a day in the saddle working with the cattle, and we also had a hunting and fishing lodge on the ranch.”
Growing up, Moore loved watching John Wayne movies, and he could have easily followed the same career path as his father—who was a two-time Stockman of the Year. But his mother, a talented artist, had more influence on his career.
“My three brothers were better cowboys than I was,” Moore says. “I actually wanted to be a doctor, but when I took my first art class as a young teenager, something clicked.”
He went on to study art in college, graduating from Colorado State University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design and illustration. That same year, he attended his first Comicon convention.
“I met a few guys at college who hired me to do the cover of a comic book,” he says. “It was my first big published project using an airbrush. It took me a long time to develop a following at Comicon. None of the editors knew who I was, and I spent more than a decade cultivating those relationships.”
In the past two decades, he has attended more than 400 pop culture conventions in eight different countries, and he has published eight pop culture books. Specializing in comics, gaming, pin-up and entertainment illustration, Moore has worked with Lucasfilm, DC Comics, Marvel Entertainment, Disney and other prestigious film companies working on “Star Wars,” “Dungeons and Dragons,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Harry Potter” and other blockbuster properties.
He has won many accolades for his pop culture art, including being the two-time winner of the World Fantasy Art Show, and having his work seen in dozens of magazines including Time, U.S. World Report, Newsweek and The Robb Report.
Drawn Back to his
While he continues to work on fantastical projects through his Colorado-based company, Maverick Arts, Moore found himself going back to his western roots a few years ago.
“My favorite western artists are [Charles] Russell, [Frederic] Remington and Howard Terpning, whose work was enjoyed by my parents,” says Moore, adding that he especially enjoys creating portraitures. “My new western art creations are dedicated to them both, and I hope their influence shows in my creations that bring together both a love of western history and art.”
Moore credits much of his fine art success to his mentor Frank Covino, whom he studied under for 15 years.
“In the past, I was finishing a painting every two to three days, but Frank taught me to slow down,” Moore explains. “He taught me how to paint like the famous masters who painted Italian Renaissance portraitures…it’s really a forgotten art.”
He also learned important lessons about sharing his knowledge with others.
“I try to keep those traditions alive, and I’ve mentored a few artists from time to time,” Moore says. “One of my focal points is highly detailed drawings. Social media has helped me, but I don’t embrace digital art. It’s important to learn how to draw and paint for real, and I try to teach that to new artists.”
In 2017, Moore was juried into his first major fine art show—Arizona Fine Art EXPO. He brought 16 originals and completed nearly 20 pieces during the show.
“One of the most rewarding experiences was selling original paintings to top collectors as well as people who had never bought original art before,” he says. “It really affirmed my goal of reaching a broad audience.”
Some patrons are attracted to his drawings and paintings of Hollywood icons—such as Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Marilyn Monroe—while others are captivated by the details in his wildlife and western lifestyle pieces. He also welcomes the challenge of taking on commissions.
This year, Moore’s big showcase piece will be his “Kiss of Color” painting of Ava Gardner, which he created at last year’s EXPO show.
“It’s now an officially licensed Ava Gardner collectible, meaning that I can offer licensed fine art prints,” he says. “It was also selected to be this year’s cover art for Arizona Fine Art EXPO’s program and promotional art.”
Exploring New Territories
While Moore has worked with everything from oil and acrylics to watercolor and airbrush, he credits his colleagues at Arizona Fine Art EXPO for inspiring him to further hone his techniques and explore working with new media.
“I’m so fortunate to work alongside such high-caliber artists at the Arizona Fine Art EXPO,” Moore says. “Being around them inspired me to take more watercolor and wildlife art workshops. And because of them, I delved into working with clay—something I had not thought of doing before.”
His first bronze was a ram, which he sculpted during last year’s EXPO show.
“I’m proud of how it turned out,” he says. “It’s now an officially licensed piece at Colorado State University. The buffalo will be available during this year’s show.”
Moore adds that his other work will include drawings and paintings of western cinematic icons, wildlife and a diverse selection of pop-culture inspired creations.
Making Scottsdale his home for 10 weeks was an easy decision—especially since he is energized by the collaborative atmosphere at Arizona Fine Art EXPO.
“During my first year at EXPO, I developed strong friendships with many of the artists, and their creative insight has helped me grow professionally,” Moore says. “My decision to return each year is not tied to sales, but rather to the unique camaraderie among the artists. I’m very grateful to be part of the EXPO art family.”
Arizona Fine Art EXPO
Jan. 10–March 22 | 10 a.m.–6 p.m. | 26540 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale | Season passes $10; seniors and military $8; children under 12 free