A sign(er) of the times
October 7, 2003
Chuck Moore, 84, of Clovis has been painting artwork, billboards and signs in Clovis for 38 years, including the portrait of his sons behind him on the wall at his home. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.
At 84, a local war veteran-turned-artist still paints signs for a living, and his bosses call him “irreplaceable.”
Charles “Chuck” Moore returned to Clovis in 1965 and was hired as a billboard and sign artist by Jimmy New and Everett McCormick at Clovis Sign Service.
That was 38 years ago — and he’s still painting artwork, billboards and signs.
“He’s been here for so long,” said Tina New, an owner of Clovis Sign Service and New Graphic Designs. “Before he got sick, he was here more often. We miss him when he’s not here. There’s always something for him to do.”
Moore doesn’t like to talk about his trips to Lubbock four times a week for radiation therapy.
“Eighty-four is old enough to have some health problems,” the irrepressible artist said. “Tina and Jamie (New) have been so kind to me. Tina opened up a graphic arts department, making signs with computerized letters. They’ve done a magnificent job with those computers. It used to take me five or six hours to letter the side of a truck, but Karla Musgrove and Tina can do the same thing with those letters in about 30 minutes. But they still have pictures that have to be painted, so I’ve kept my hand in it.”
Tina New agreed.
“Computer lettering doesn’t replace the artist,” she said. “His talent is still there. Chuck can take a business card and re-create it so well. He’s irreplaceable. We can’t hire anybody with the honor and the integrity that man has. They don’t make them like him anymore.”
Moore first came to the Clovis area in 1945 to train as a navigator on the new B-29 Superfortress bomber.
“When I came to Clovis, that’s where I met my wife, Georgian, of 57 years,” he said. “On our last training flight, we crashed and burned our B-29 north of Clovis.”
None of the aircrew was seriously injured in the crash, Moore said.
After the war, he married Georgian in 1946, and the couple moved to Pittsburgh for Moore to go to art school for nearly three years.
“We came back to Clovis poor as church mice,” he said. “I started working in department stores, such as Dunlap’s. I sold shoes and men’s wear. That was an exciting time in downtown Clovis. I used my art to dress up the store windows. One time, I built a miniature football field in a window. You learned to get by with what you had to work with. There was a good spirit of Christmas. It just made you feel wonderful.”
After a two-year stint with the railroad, Moore wanted to “get into my art,” so he went to Albuquerque to work for an outdoor advertising company. He painted billboards for five years there, then went to Ohio doing the same kind of work.
“I was doing billboards outside,” he said. “Sometimes, it got pretty cold.”
After five years in Ohio, Georgian’s mother became sick back in Clovis, which prompted the Moores to come back to eastern New Mexico and begin his career with Clovis Sign Service.
“I didn’t do much outdoor advertising or billboards here, but they had a lot of work for me,” he said. “They were very patient with me in learning hand-lettering. I really enjoyed the pictures I got to paint.”
His wife said she has been pleased with her husband as an artist and sign painter.
“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I especially liked it when he painted them and then brought them home.”
Moore said he also enjoys music in his life.
“Another love of mine is Gospel music,” he said. “I always volunteered to be a song leader or choir director in churches we’ve attended. And I would use my artwork at Easter and Christmas in the building of the backdrops for the plays. I liked that part. God has been very good to me. He helped me with every painting and every song I’ve sung. I give him the credit for anything I’ve done.”