The Alice Moseley Museum
The colorful and beloved folk artist left behind a lasting legacy in her adopted town of Bay St. Louis. Step into her world of antiques, art and most of all, laughter.
- by Lisa Monti
Born in Birmingham, she married William “Mose” Moseley and moved to Batesville, his hometown. After their son Tim was born the couple moved to Memphis, where Miss Alice earned a bachelor’s in education and later a master’s. She taught in the day and cared for her mother at night, spending hours painting.
Early on, Miss Alice was reluctant to sell her paintings, according to Tim, but all reluctance surely left her at a flea market in Nashville when a man from Kentucky paid $45 each for the first 30 paintings she ever created.
With that $1,350 check, the reticent retired schoolteacher became a professional folk artist.
Miss Alice continued painting on wood or any other material at hand and her works sold quickly. Mose did the framing on some of her work and when one sold, Miss Alice paid him a commission. Some of those frames can be seen at the museum that showcases Miss Alice’s work.
She discovered Bay St. Louis in 1988 by way of an art show and knew she’s found a special place. Miss Alice, at 79, moved to the Bay and settled into her home and studio, where she graciously greeted visitors.
If you were lucky enough to meet Alice Moseley, known respectfully as Miss Alice, in her now-famous blue house on the edge of the Historic Depot grounds, the encounter was no doubt unforgettable. No matter how many visitors she greeted in her home/gallery, Miss Alice charmed each one with stories about her work. Even her beagle, Herman, was completely at ease with the comings and goings of visitors buying prints of her folk art.
Her story is well known locally. Miss Alice took up painting at age 60 and without benefit of art instruction while she cared for her ailing mother. “If my Mom had not been ill, I never would’ve painted,” Miss Alice said. “I think of it as her gift to me.”
Miss Alice died in 2004 at 94 and was remembered at a service on the lawn of the depot, which now houses the Alice Moseley Folk Art and Antique Museum. Visitors may not look across the way at the Blue House on Bookter Street where Miss Alice held forth, but once they have toured the museum and learned of her home, they surely take a look on their way out.
The museum exhibits include more than 40 works by Miss Alice, as well as collections of Depression glass, old bottles, Majolica vases and assorted antiques. Visitors to the museum often “discover” Miss Alice for the first time, and they leave with an appreciation of her talent and her generosity. She wanted everyone to see the museum so, she declared there would be no admission fee. Instead, the museum is supported by donations and proceeds from the sale of Alice Moseley prints and books.
Miss Alice’s folk art shows off her humor, with titles including “The House Is Blue, But The Old Lady Ain’t” for her painting of her Booker Street home.
There’s a reference to Elvis — whom Miss Alice knew back in the day — in her work, depicting the King’s rise from a humble Tupelo home to Graceland. It’s called “From a Shotgun House to a Mansion on a Hill.” “Labor versus Management” depicts a stubborn mule and a frustrated farmer in overalls.
“Three Sheets In The Wind” shows a tipsy old man with three sheets hanging on a clothesline in the background. The print is especially popular among “regional drinking establishments,” according to the museum.