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Richard Mock : Spiritual Life

Updated: Jun 27

Public Programs:

Saturday, August 17th beginning at 2 pm | Does Art Heal? Art Making and Mental Health — Panel discussion, led by Maria Cocchiarelli with mental health practitioners and experts Dr. William Beverly and Terry Patrick, with practicing artists. Refreshments will be served.

Friday, August 2nd beginning at 2 pm (Richard Mock’s Birthday) Reminiscences of Friendship Online panel discussion from Red Hook, Brooklyn — a discussion of Richard Mock’s friendships and his contributions to the development of community with Scott Pfaffman of The Wall Gallery, Florence Neal of Kentler International Drawing Space, Jane St.Lifer of Jane St.Lifer International Art Appraiser, and Brendt Berger, in Walsenburg at MoF.

Saturday, September 7, beginning at 2 pm | Art and Politics — a walking tour of Richard Mock’s Political illustrations in the Museum of Friends Permanent Collection. A group discussion follows to discuss current scenarios that would make good political illustrations and get Mock’s fancy. Refreshments will be served.

Saturday, September 7 beginning at 2 pm Williamsburg Brooklyn direct line to Walsenburg Colorado — Artists on the Fringe A virtual discussion with Williamsburg artists Tata and Thua and Walsenburg’s Lika Shubitdize and Archil Gheghechkori casually discuss the struggles and benefits of being an artist in today’s society in America. All four are from the Country of Georgia and practice visual and music disciplines that explore issues of identity and sexuality. Refreshments will be served.

School Tour Program — From September throughout the school year: Discipline-based, child-centered art education, K-12, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call for pre-visit info and fees. School Tour program supported by the Museum of Friends Board.

Richard Basil Mock was born in Long Beach, California in August 1944. At that time, there was a cosmic shift in the American Art scene. His energy, enthusiasm, and love of color was nothing compared to his open heart and generosity of spirit.

I observed Richard working on the Perceiving Space mural at Socrates Park in 1986. In those days, many neighborhood volunteers were helping over 20 artists place their sculptures and get the park ready for the inaugural opening of Socrates Sculpture Park. One day it was raining and I just sat in my car watching Richard with local youth from the adjacent housing project as they painted away and sometimes shared a piece of cardboard to cover their heads from the rain. The painting project covered a huge 50’ x 100’ building that Mock asked Enrico Martignoni (Mark di Suvero’s nephew) to prime in silver. Richard and his crew were applying automobile acrylic lacquer to a corrugated steel building on two sets of scaffolding. I was hooked on art and mural making in an instant.

A few years later, due to cutbacks and my director losing his grant, I lost my job at P.S. 1 (the Institute for Contemporary Art now part of MOMA.) By then, Richard had become my friend while working on the Take Back the Park and Don’t Get Hooked murals in Chelsea Park, Manhattan. We hardly knew each other when we began. The commission was for Children’s Museum of Manhattan with public funds from the local government. I knew nothing about mural painting except what I had learned in graduate school as a concept, but each morning in New York City’s hot summer air, Richard would pick me up from Greenpoint Brooklyn with his helper Guillermo and off we went for a day of possibilities and unknowns.

The children were from the local homeless shelter. The purpose of the mural was to reinvigorate the park with children and playing sports – simultaneously replacing the drug dealers and prostitutes. Part of our job was gently suggesting that the people living in cardboard boxes on the top level of the baseball bleachers leave so the painting could begin. I cringed with apprehension. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised when they just agreed to move on.

I think it had something to do with Richard and his persuasive manner. After seeing him work with children who were various ages, skill levels and full of creativity, I was amazed. The Socrates Sculpture Park Perceiving Space mural was accomplished with young peoples’ help but they were much older. As the days passed in Chelsea Park, we noticed that many didn’t have breakfast before coming. So, I took on another job of muffin making and preparing the cooler with butter, juice and water each morning. Mind you, I had no air conditioning in those days in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. So while my railroad apartment filled up with the heat from the oven, I carried up to the 2nd floor a huge bucket of brushes, dumped them into my bathtub, began the soaking and washing cycles, and listened for the timer to let me know the muffins were done.

In those days of painting with Richard, I learned so many things – he was like a child, always open for suggestions and loving the unexpected. One day one of the children’s moms came over to help paint. As he started to engage with her, we discovered she was a prostitute. Although she was hitting on him for some money, he just kept smiling as if he didn’t understand. It was wonderful to watch. Art prevailed. Each moment we worked together became memorable. Getting back to when I lost my job, I had called Richard hoping for some sympathy and instead, he got me a job offer at Socrates! When I went to meet the then director Enrico Martignoni, I was offered the best job – two days a week running the educational program. I could not have been happier. The cosmic shift in my own life was that with art, all things are possible.

Richard was readily able to work with children, various audiences and me without reservation while creating the most articulated works of supreme geometry, color and life. Many of the paintings from the Rinconada series represent Richard’s wonder at the human activity of art making. When I visited him at his studio in Nuevo León, Mexico, we would wander through canyons where petroglyphs were incised into the sides of rock. At his Mexico studio, there were 10 or 12 projects going at once. He had indigenous tools recreated at a foundry; he took pieces of rock and incised into them; he philosophized about the history of mankind and the deep need to create. Create anything, as long as you are expressing your human need to create. Amazing.

When you look at the works on view in this gallery, please look with an open mind, open heart and a gentle reminder that when someone walks into your life with stories and knowledge to share, take it in knowing those moments are transient.

Richard passed away on July 22, 2006. I miss Richard’s laugh, his spirit, his extreme optimism, his unbelievable ability to make something out of nothing and his undying generosity to share his artwork and work with at-promise youth. This spirit lives on at MoF, and Richard Mock’s political cartoons, lithographs, 3-D objects d’art, paintings and letters fill MoF’s spaces for all to explore and enjoy.

Maria Cocchiarelli, Walsenburg, 2024

This exhibit is made possible by the generous donation of Bonnie Mock & Anthony Turr (Reno, Nevada), archivist Scott Pfaffman, the Richard Mock estate, and the continued support of Colorado Creative Industries, History Colorado and OEDIT.

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