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Matt Moffett: On Pets, Death, and President Gerald Ford
Opportunities to fulfill one's destiny often come in unexpected ways. For Matt Moffett,his journey has indeed shown this to be true. And I ask myself, do we ever really fulfill just one destiny or have multiple possibilities of destined experiences?
Matt Moffett, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Pet Commissions, Gerald Ford
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Matt Moffett: On Pets, Death, and President Gerald Ford

Matt Moffett: On Pets, Death, and President Gerald Ford

Opportunities to fulfill one’s destiny often come in unexpected ways. For Matt Moffett, his journey has indeed shown this to be true. And I ask myself, do we ever really fulfill just one destiny or have multiple possibilities of destined experiences?

As the proverbial phrase goes; When life gives you lemons, make lemonade- this seems to be the theme that started Matt’s career as an artist in 1997 when his beloved dog suddenly passed away. He searched nationwide for someone to paint an oil portrait of his pet and finally found an artist in Dallas who charged $12,000 for a single portrait- too steep of a price in 1997 and pretty steep even in today’s market. Feeling defeated and motivated, Matt described that when he was driving back to Tulsa, he “went straight to Ziegler’s, walked in and said Danny Zeigler, show me how to use oil paints. And so he did.”

“I became an artist because my dog passed away,” Matt Moffett said.

Today, people from across the globe commission Matt for pet portraits. ” I remember that pain of losing my pet. So when somebody is hiring me to capture their pet on Canvas, it’s a big deal,” recounts Matt. His art even reached a former sitting President, Gerald Ford, when first lady Betty Ford, having family ties to Tulsa, commissioned Matt to paint a portrait of their Cocker Spaniel; Happy.

Soon, another route of Matt’s destiny opened up for him. Having lived in Spain for 6 years, Matt was a Spanish teacher in Tulsa. Moving on from teaching Spanish, he then taught art to Spanish-speaking students, and soon after, he became a full-time Art Teacher at Eugene Field Elementary in West Tulsa.

Today, people from across the globe commission Matt for pet portraits. ” I remember that pain of losing my pet. So when somebody is hiring me to capture their pet on Canvas, it’s a big deal,” recounts Matt. His art even reached a former sitting President, Gerald Ford, when first lady Betty Ford, having family ties to Tulsa, commissioned Matt to paint a portrait of their Cocker Spaniel; Happy.

I became an artist because my dog passed away." - Matt Moffett

Soon, another route of Matt’s destiny opened up for him. Having lived in Spain for 6 years, Matt was a Spanish teacher in Tulsa. Moving on from teaching Spanish, he then taught art to Spanish-speaking students, and soon after, he became a full-time Art Teacher at Eugene Field Elementary in West Tulsa.

One day, the tides turned when The Wild Fork restaurant owners called Matt for assistance because an artist dropped out of hanging dozens of paintings in their space. Matt remembers saying, “I don’t have 20 paintings to hang because I am a commissioned painter working full time. But would you let my kids hang?” At first, they resisted but eventually gave him the opportunity. With a budget of only $300, Matt and his students created 20 paintings, hung them in the restaurant, and ended up selling them for $1,000 a piece- selling out in one day.

Serendipitously, a woman saw this story featured on the local news, contacted Matt, and gave him the first $500,000 to start a nonprofit teaching art to underserved girls. This prompted the Tulsa Girls Art School, which Matt ran for ten years. Forgive me for this condensed timeline of events of the creation of such an important non-profit, TGAS, but for the sake of rolling along in the course of the story, I must. In short, though Matt retired from executive director in 2017, the non-profit still flourishes today as a thriving after-school program teaching art to young girls.

Another twist to the plot came when the Google data center in Pryor, Oklahoma, approached Matt to create art in their new shopping center. They commissioned Matt to create six mosaic colonnades, twenty feet tall and seven feet in diameter. They all depict Oklahoma flora and fauna with Cherokee beading patterns at the top. It took Matt a year and a half to create these mosaics. From this success, they asked him to design a large statue of the Scissor-Tail Flycatcher, our state bird. As most artists do, Matt said yes, even though industrial welding was slightly outside his range of expertise. Seeking wisdom from his friend, Jack Alexander, a 90-year-old welder, they used a massive industrial welding machine from the 1920s, called stick welding, to create the final piece- a 9,000 pound, 25-foot in diameter, 25 feet long, 25 foot wingspan Scissor Tail Fly Catcher.
Sccissor-Tail Flycatcher

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Purchase Matt’s art

Circling back to painting, Matt’s artistic journey always leads back to his love of oil painting on canvas. Matt’s art can be purchased through his Instagram and website as well at local art showings around town. His art is called Loose Magical Realism, and his journey as an artist seems to embody that description. Bright neon colors, iconic images of buildings, marquees, and flowers, plus his signature placement of an umbrella in each painting. During an artist residency years ago, Matt found he was not alone in the magical realism he created on canvas, for a whole school of people painted like him in the late 1800s, using symbols to convey magic. Maybe that is exactly what life does when it comes to us all full-filling our destiny; it places signs, symbols, twists, and turns along the way, hoping we will see them as opportunities to create magic for our multi-faceted lives.

I became an artist because my dog passed away." - Matt Moffett

Places to visit nearby

Matt’s studio near in the historic neighborhood of Charles Page in West Tulsa. This area is up and coming with local art galleries and community centers.

  • Dillon Rose; husband and wife owned silversmith and custom jewelry design. 1229 #1, Charles Page Blvd
  • Waterworks Art Center; community art studio offering classes and workshops in ceramics, drawing, painting, glass fusing, jewelry, basket making, weaving, and more. 1710 Charles Page Boulevard
  • Take a tour of the historic Cave House: tours by appointment only
  • Baxters Interurban Grill : local eatery serving food since the late 1970’s. 717 S. Houston

Matt Moffett’s 4 Favorite pieces

  • Scissortail Fly Catcher

    Scissortail Fly Catcher

    The State Bird of Oklahoma

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  • A commissioned piece using Smalti, tesserae as well as glass gems.

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  • Window to Wonderland

    Window to Wonderland

    Matt explains how this painting is inspired by the animated Disney “Alice in Wonderland” and how she daydreams in the daisies.

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