#20 Montalk with artist and art instructor Tsungwei Moo

How was your weekend, artist and art instructor Tsungwei Moo?

The first weekend of January 2018, I went to Jamaica. It was not a vacation. I went there to facing my fear. It was the first time I went back there since my boyfriend got gun shot murdered at his
own house. It was robbery. I went to see his family and friends then I went to see his both houses. The one when he was alive he built it for us to live, and the one he is sleeping there27747122_10204292511110391_228388280_o rest in peace. I laid down on his grave for a while until rain fall on me.

Unlike I was thinking, there was no ghost there waiting for me. I cried, I called his name, but I didn’t see his spirt or feel any cold breeze. He was gone. I lost him, the love of my life, forever.

About you: Let us know who you are. Would you describe yourself in 3 words, one country, a song, a piece of art and your favorite color?

I am an artist living in San Francisco, United States. Negril, Jamaica was my chosen home, and I am originally from Taiwan. I worked for an advertising agency as an art director when I was in Taiwan. It was a stable job with good salary, but in my heart I always know I want to do fine art instead of commercial art. We only live this life once, I better make the best I can, do the things I truly want. One day I got promotion, at that moment I knew that if I don’t make a decision to change, I will never be what I want to be. I quit my job and came to San Francisco to studied English and fine art, I live here since then.


I believe in public education. Getting knowledge should be affordable. I learned painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, metal art, figure drawing at San Francisco City College. We have one of the best communities college program in the United State. Also, I believe in what we received, what we should give away. I learn all the knowledge from public education program leading me able to be a professional artist now, so I sharing my passion my art techniques to the public.
Every summer I volunteer to be an art instructor at Yosemite National Park which is my favorite place in the world.

Describe myself in 3 words: Lovely, Kind-hearted, Special
One country: It’s hard to choose only one. Taiwan > USA > Jamaica
A song: Bob Marley “ Is this love”
A piece of art: Van Gogh “ Sunflowers”
It always gives me positive energy when I have down feeling.
Favorite color: 6 parts Phthalo Blue, 1 part Phthalo Green, and white mix together. Almost like turquoise color, it’s the color of Caribbean ocean.


My favorite Color combination is lemon yellow mixed with white and the almost like turquoise color. Those are sun shine and ocean colors.

Vita: Your career is remarkable. It seems, that you’ve never thought about doing something else except art, artwork and painting. When and how was your key moment knowing exactly what you want to do in and with your life?

I always know I want to be an artist since I have memories. Just like fish doesn’t need to know it lives in the water, it already in the water. If you have a dream, dream it big. I have always believed in the power of art to inspire change.  Art is powerful just like words. Visualize image is my vehicle, is my language to say something important to the world. I am still exploring the new ideas and developing my thoughts to see how can I use my art to do something Important and Impact the society. My boyfriend was recently a victim of gun violence. This tragedy has inspired me more than ever to use my art to make the world a better place.

How would you connect these words and what does they mean for you, how much do they weight?
 Humanity – Art – Poverty – Animals – Nature – Poetry – Money.

Subject matter, those words are connected with my art. My art is like my diary, I use visualize image to describe how I feeling or what is most interested me. I like the difference between cultures. Even though the culture, social status are different, from different nationality, from rich to poor, they all have something in common that is “humanity”. “Art” is the way I express myself. “Poverty”and “Money” are the contrast subject in my art. A lot of characters in my painting and sculptures are the portraits of people living in lack of resources. For example, in Jamaica there are a lot of private beach those are not allowed Jamaican to swim there, those are only for the tourists with money. Local Jamaicans have to walk to the end and swim in the public beach where the river dirty water and ocean meets. It’s 2018 now, in many countries some families still don’t have water or electricity for daily life. Life in a difficult condition but family relationships are really tight, love and care for each other shows so much pleasure. Those humanities conditions are the most interesting subject for me27718802_10204292515950512_551282067_n

My other inspiration is mother nature and wildlife. I love to be in the nature. I grow up in the city, and I always live in the city. Able to get away once a while is a big treat for myself. Just like I enjoyed portrait of people in the environment, I also love to making art about animals in the nature. Sometimes I even humanize the animals in my works.

I believe in art is powerful just like words. I don’t write poetry, but I got some opportunities to interpreted some writer’s works and made their words visualized. I think corporate with different fields of art is other inspiration.

“Money” is very important for an artist career. Economic situation stable is the back support for an artist, it allowed artists have nothing to worry about and able to just creating art. It allowed artists use the highest quality materials and get the best performance. I have seem some artists fall in the money swirl, they making art for the market but not true to themselves. Maximum reproduction works just to feed the market needs. That’s some situations I accepted in the art market, but I disagree about it.

Your homepage says you are “an artist in residence at Yosemite National Park”. You also teach pastel drawing right in the nature. What is your aspiration of teaching students something new?

The nature atmosphere is always changing, and each individual receive it in their own way. I show them how to observe the details and catch it with pastel sticks draw on the paper. The creating process can use colors and brush strokes to express the inner feeling of the artist

You like to travel. You have returning sceneries in your pictures, Bay Area landscape even the Jamaican Blue Mountains. How did your journeys influences your work and which places on earth did the most?

27835460_10204292503870210_429201714_oI am a cat person. Curiosity kills the cat, and satisfaction bring it back.
I love to see the differences when I travel, and those are the most inspirations in my works. I have body of works cohesive by 3 main locations. There are “San Francisco” which is my home now, “Yosemite National Park” which is my favorite place in the world, and “Jamaica “ where my love one was there. I haven’t make anything about “Taiwan” where I was coming from yet, but after making artworks inspiration by curiosity, I understood my own cultural deeper now. “ Taiwan” and something about my family history will be my next project.

Life is always changing. It’s hard to say which location influences me the most. Art is my diary, I follow the flow of life.

Youngsters: I’ve checked your Instagram and facebook account. You offer pictures from your gallery, which documents your working flow, giving followers an idea of your work.
What is your advice for young artists to be seen and how important is social media and the presence in the internet?

There are a lot of opportunities for artist such as exhibition call for artists, residency opportunities and art competition. Those informations are easy to find online. Don’t be discouraged if you fail the first time. Always prepare yourself for the best condition so that when the opportunity comes you will be ready. Social media is a great window to let artist’s works been seen. I am still new with that myself.


Congratulation: You just won a spot in San Francisco’s Muni’s at the “Muni Art 2018” (link, news on TV) The Poetry Society America added poems this year for the first time, because the poem is located in the Bay Area. They awarded you as a painter and a quote of you, which literally is moving (poeple) now.
How important is this award for you and is there something you want tell about this success?

Being able to put my works on the Muni bus in San Francisco means I will get a lot of exposure this period of time that means a lot to me. When I was working on this project, I was thinking this is once of life time opportunity, I must do something really good and able to speak positive messages to the world. Besides the five poetry panels, artist has three panels can do anything I 26230118_10204191829753420_62257859370672848_nwant to do. What is the most important message I want to say? I made” Love is the bridge” for discriminate issues exist in the society, and love is the bridge to melt down the gap. “Love your life, help them survive” is the panel let people beware about homeless issue in the city, and the final panel is “Do something good to others today”. I think art could be functional. I want to use my art do something good to the society and influence community.

I recently got selected to be the artist participate “Art of Peace” project. Every year in California we have policeman gun buyback program to help decrease the crime rate. Selected artists use the distorted gun parts to create an art piece for fundraising to buyback more guns for the next year. For the long term this action will reduce the amount of guns in the black market. Winning Muni project is the beginning opportunity to allow me to more meaningful works and able to seen in the future.


Imagine: If you just had one color, one material to paint on, one tool, one topic – How would your painting look like, which word would you use to describe what you’re feeling in the situation you work on your piece of art, what is the title and in which city would your working process located in? Maybe you could sketch it for us 🙂

It will be an abstraction piece. Open context, it could be anything dependents on the viewer to feeling. It will be turquoise color on wood.
Title : between the sky and ocean
City : San Francisco

I was a good question, which question would I be?

What is an artist responsible and how to achieve the goal?


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