A quintessential outside artist, Russell Dale Moffett’s work has begun to attract collectors’ serious attention. This much is known about his life: he was born in Indiana on Sept. 3, 1899. In 1920 he was a house painter in Philadelphia. By 1942 he had settled in San Diego and was a muralist. He died there on Sept. 6, 1984. A large proportion of his output was created to decorate the bars and dives of those honky-tonk neighborhoods in downtown San Diego that catered to the soldiers and sailors that passed through in the boom war years when it was a liberty town. Much of his work must have been lost to gentrification and urban renewal. Some of it is just now coming to light. He was a superb purveyor of male fantasies. Our painting could well have been inspired by Maria Montez in 1944’s “Cobra Woman” but in this artist’s hands became something much more wonderful, innocent and erotic at the same time. And, of course (which could never happen in the movies), nude! Folk art at this level is to be treasured, and the Cobra Woman, we feel it safe to say, represents Moffat at his absolute best, a painting he really put all of himself into. A window onto a vivid, vanished, masculine world of garish dreams and pulpish imagination. Whoever said all men are boys certainly said a mouthful. This may well be Moffett’s masterpiece. Certainly it’s the best of his we’ve ever seen.
Canvas mounted on board 47 1/2″ x 52″, frame 52″ x 56 1/2″. The gold painted frame has holes where the the painting was screwed into the wall to prevent the patrons walking off with it. It is impossible to convey on-line the true dive-bar atmosphere that attaches to this amazing artifact.