Moore: Andy Wyeth was a ’57 T-bird

Barbara Moore's life has taken her from learning about classic cars to fine art and now to jewelry and handbags.

For more than 40 years, Barbara Moore was the director of the Chadds Ford Gallery. She started working at the gallery part time in 1975, shortly after a divorce. She knew little about the art world but was determined to learn, as she had previously learned about antique cars.

"I tell people I'm just a used car salesman," Moore said in a recent interview following the opening of her new venture, Barbara Moore Fine Art, in the same space at the Barn Shops where the gallery had been.

While married, she worked with her husband, fixing, showing and selling classic automobiles. She learned the business well. It was a time she often refers to as "When I was living that other life."

Barbara Moore’s path has been one of learning and growing. She went from a part time employee of the Chadds Ford gallery, to become the gallery director and now the owner of Barbara More Fine Art.

After the divorce, she worked three part time jobs, one of them being at the gallery on weekends. But, within a year after starting there, she became the director. She said she had a lot to learn, all of it being on the job. Moore had no previous knowledge of art.

Fortunately, she met artist Paul Scarborough, and the two developed a 38-year-long personal relationship. Scarborough helped her learn about art in general as well as the mind of an artist. One event stands out for her, an event that helped broaden her outlook on art. She and Scarborough went to a gallery in New York where she saw several Wyeth paintings in chrome frames.

"That opened my mind. I realized that art couldn't be locked into being just one way… I needed to know my subject, and Andy Wyeth became a 1957 Thunderbird to me," she said.

Moore is now known for her knowledge and understanding of art, artists and her clientele. She's seen changes in the market for art. When she started at the gallery, she said customers couldn't get enough of particular artists, those who were more popular. But it could take a long time for newer artists to become accepted.

That and high prices, she said, led her to come up with the idea for Christmas in Miniature. With her as director, the Chadds Ford Gallery became the first to have such an exhibit and it became a tradition.

The idea was to get younger couples away from buying just reproductions for $25 to $35. The miniature exhibit allowed the popular artists as well as those on their way up to sell original pieces, smaller in size and price. Artists readily agreed to lower their prices and the gallery reduced its commissions for items sold during the end of year show.

As Moore said of Christmas in Miniature in an interview several years ago, "It gives younger people without a lot of disposable income to start collecting real art."

That idea remains valid, she said over the weekend. Younger couples, especially the millennials, have to work. "They either both have to work or just don't have the time to shop for decorations for their walls. Art in homes is now minimal."

Barbara Moore Fine Art will focus on selling Scarborough art and Wyeth prints. She will also do appraisals, consult on framing and feature local artists.

And, as the old commercial would say, "But wait, there's more."

Sharing the space in that front building is Bri Brant, designer of leather bags and owner of Arden and James. When Brant is not at the store, Moore will cover for her. So now, after learning about classic cars, fine art, the artistic mind and customers, Moore has to learn about leather handbags, baskets and handmade jewelry to sell for Brant.

There's a reason Brant — a Chadds Ford native who used to work at the old "Wooden Wawa" — chose to work with Moore.

"So much of who I am comes from the interesting characters I have met around town. Barbara is Chadds Ford to me, and I am honored to share space with her. Her experience, spirit and kindness are a big part of what has made the Barn Shops what they are…She is a local treasure, and we are all lucky to be able to stop in and talk to her."

Barbara Moore Fine Art and Arden and James will have a formal grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 16, but they are open for business now. Their regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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