ALICE LATIMER MOSELEY
Nationally Acclaimed Folk Artist
Miss Alice, as she was referred to by friends and admirers, was a self-taught idyllic folk artist who began painting at age 65 to maintain her sanity while caring for her Alzheimer’s – afflicted mother.
Before that, she had only dabbled in china painting during her teens. “If my Mom had not been ill, I never would’ve painted,” Miss Alice once said. “I think of it as her gift to me.”
Alice Latimer Moseley was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on December 21, 1909, the oldest daughter of Earl and Mildred Latimer. After graduating Ensley High School, Miss Alice attended the University of Alabama until her father’s death in 1929.
Miss Alice’s love arrived thereafter – William Jones “Mose” Moseley.
He came into the deli business we had and walked up to my mother. He was a shy sort of man. He wasn’t pushy like I am. He said, ‘I’m going to marry your daughter some day.’ My mother thought he was nuts, but it really happened, just the way he said it would.
Soon after they married, the newlyweds moved to Mose’s hometown of Batesville, Mississippi, a place captured in several of Miss Alice’s paintings. After their son, Tim, was born, the family moved to Memphis. During this time, Miss Alice earned her teaching permit and began substitute teaching while earning her Bachelors in Education. She taught English at Whitehaven High School and later at Oakhaven High. Eventually, Miss Alice would earn her Masters at Memphis State University, now the University of Memphis.
In the late 1960s, Miss Alice’s mother came to live with them in Batesville. With determination and strength, Miss Alice continued to teach by day and care for her Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother at night. To alleviate the depression and stress, Alice turned to painting.
After her mother died, Miss Alice began taking her paintings to art shows and flea markets.
As her son, Tim Moseley, an antique collector and dealer recalls…
“Back around 1970, I was going to the flea market in Nashville, Tennessee and talked my mom into taking her paintings. She reluctantly agreed. I rented her a stall and helped her hang the first 30 paintings that she had painted. I then resumed my search for antique bargains. When I returned an hour later, Mom was in an empty stall holding a $1,350 check. “He bought them all, he bought them all,” Mom excitedly told me. A Mr. Barr from Kentucky had indeed bought them all for $45 apiece. That was the day when Alice Moseley, retired schoolteacher, became Alice Moseley, professional artist.”
Mose also retired and they moved to Enid Lake, in Pope, Mississippi, living in a tenant shack that once had been at Graceland. Vernon Presley, who was a neighbor in Memphis, gave it to Mose, who disassembled it and reassembled it at Plum Point. Miss Alice enjoyed telling her interviewers how she knew Elvis Presley. One of her favorite conversations with him was when Elvis told her he liked to go to the school for the deaf in Jackson, Mississippi, and sing and play for the kids.
“But Elvis, they can’t hear you.”
“Oh,” remarked Presley. “They somehow feel the beat. Those little feet pat out the rhythm.”
Around 1977, Mose showed Miss Alice’s paintings to a movie theater owner in Whitehaven. He took some of her paintings and in one evening sold them all. After this, her art began to gain in popularity and she realized “Maybe I had something really going for me.”
I’d paint on wood or anything. And I even painted on old saws. I tell a story with everything I paint, and I also consider myself something of a historian through my painting.
She included Mose in her activities by having him craft frames from wood taken from old barns. “I paid him a commission for the frames every time I sold a painting, so that kept him enthusiastic about it,” said Miss Alice. Mose’s frames still exist on many of the paintings hung in the Museum today.
In the spring of 1978, Mose died of a heart attack, but Miss Alice had her work to keep her busy. She was now traveling with other artists and earning prizes for her work. It was in 1988 that Bay St. Louis charmed Miss Alice. She had received invitations to five art shows in various cities. She couldn’t decide which one to attend so she asked her assistant, Kathryn Lloyd, to randomly select one. Kathryn chose the Beach Front Festival in Bay St. Louis.
While driving over the Bay Bridge, Miss Alice said to herself, “This is it. This is where I’ll spend the rest of my life.” She was 79 at the time of her move.
She captured Bay St. Louis in several of her paintings, and one gift hung in City Hall for several years. Hundreds of tourists came to her home and studio to “visit a spell.”
On July 9, 2004, Miss Alice passed away at the age of 94. Approximately 200 people attended the planned memorial service under the big oak tree on the lawn of the train depot. The tree that still stands in front of the depot and her Museum today.
I want people to know I’m not just some little old lady with a weekend hobby. This is not just a hobby.