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Over the Mountain Journal – November 13th, 2012

Sunday, November 25th, 2012


A Brush with History

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 From Over the Mountain Journal, November 13, 2012

Keysha Drexel
Journal Editor

Bob Moody in his Mountain Brook art studio.

Bob Moody in his Mountain Brook art studio.

In his 81 years, Bob Moody of Mountain Brook says he has done a little bit of everything. Through it all, he has always considered himself first and foremost a painter.

Bob has worked as a graphic designer, an architect, an artist for NASA and has served on the Mountain Brook City Council, but he said watercolor painting is still his true passion.

“Every day, I still feel the desire to create, and when I sit down with the watercolors, I still get that rush of adrenaline,” he said.

Bob will be the featured artist on Nov. 19 at the Mountain Brook Art Association’s holiday art show at Brookwood Mall. The show runs through Dec. 1, with a different artist featured each day.

Bob said his path to being a featured artist in the show started out in an unlikely place.

“I grew up in Boaz, and it was a very rural area back then. I grew up on the farm, picking cotton and never dreaming I would earn a living in art,” he said.

Bob said he started sketching when he was in high school as “an excuse to get out of going to church” and said he was blessed with supportive parents.

“Both of my parents were very supportive and encouraged me to pursue art. They didn’t try to dissuade me or talk me into doing something just for money. They both wanted me to follow my passion,” he said.

So Bob graduated from high school and set off for Auburn University to study architecture.

“Here I was, this kid from the country who had never had a formal art class in his life, and I was down at Auburn with all these kids who had taken tons of arts classes. It was a little overwhelming,” he said.

But Bob continued to follow his artistic passions and graduated from Auburn with a degree in architecture, specializing in interior design.

After graduating, Bob said he went into commercial art to support his young family and worked for R.G. LeTourneau in Dallas.

From there, Bob found himself taking part in history as an artist for NASA in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

“I worked on what was called future projects. I was working with all these artists from Disney to illustrate the Apollo flight. We also illustrated the moon flight and landing with 65 slides that were presented in Washington (D.C.),” he said.

Bob left NASA in 1965, and by the time the moon landing took place in 1969, the event was somewhat anticlimactic for him, he said.

“We had illustrated that moon trip scenario so many times before the landing that I felt like I’d been to the moon and back 1,000 times. Looking back, I realize I was a part of history, but at the time I didn’t think anything about it. Now, my children and grandchildren think it’s pretty neat,” he said.

Bob’s work for NASA was published in Time, Life and Paris Match.

He also had a chance to work with Wernher von Braun, the German-American rocket scientist who was the director of the Marshall Space Flight Center and the chief architect of the Saturn V, which propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the moon.

“He was one of the most gracious people I’ve ever met,” Bob said. “If you stayed up all night working on a presentation for him, he would write you a thank-you note.”

After seven years at NASA, Bob said he decided it was time to work in his field of training. He spent the next seven years working at an architectural firm in Birmingham.

After that, Bob opened his own architectural firm, Moody and Associates, in the building that today is the home of Highlands Bar and Grill.

Bob retired from his firm in 2002 but said he has never really retired from art.

“I didn’t really retire, I just came here to my home studio and started working again,” he said. “My wife and I did a couple of watercolor books. One was on churches in Alabama, and then we did one on English churches.”

The book on the English churches, “The Church Triumphant,” found a royal audience when Bob was asked to personally present it to Queen Elizabeth and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the 50th celebration of the Historic Churches Preservation Trust at St. Bartholomew’s Church in 2003.

Bob said he had been painting and exhibiting watercolors for 60 years when he decided to participate in an early Mountain Brook Art Association show.

“It’s a great organization with hardworking people,” he said.

Bob said the holiday art show is a great way for people to support local artists.

“Artists need people to see their work. It’s about more than money, it’s about an affirmation of your work,” he said.

Bob said he feels blessed that he has been able to get affirmation for his work and continue to create.

“It’s still a lot of fun for me, and sometimes I wonder how a man at my age can still get so excited about pigment floating around in water,” he said.

For more on the Mountain Brook Art Association’s holiday art show, visit www.MountainBrookArtAssociation.com.