■ By Kyle Selby / Reporter
Max DeMoss has been casting metal and making sculptures since he was 15 years old.
Today, at 72, he and his wife Carolyn live in Hemet, hidden away in the orange groves (10 acres of which are his), where he specializes in bronze sculptures. He creates his work at home in his very own, private, foundry art studio.
DeDeMoss’ sculptures range from 6-inch figures, to large bronze creations that can get as large as 12 feet in diameter. Most of his work, often influenced by religious, mythical, or ritualistic designs, wind up in galleries all along the West Coast.
“The main gallery we use is the Hawthorne Gallery in Big Sur,” said DeMoss. “And then we have another gallery in Port Orford, Oregon, and another in Palm Desert – The Desert Art Collection.”
Palm Desert is host to 38 pieces, Port Orford has 42, and Big Sur has the largest collection, with 112 pieces. From Big Sur, the works go all over the country, and all over the world. He has sold several pieces to private buyers, business on the East Coast, Europe, and also in China.
“Hawthorne [Gallery] really took off right at the turn of the century, so that kept us busy when we weren’t doing church work,” said DeMoss. “We were cranking out work for the gallery!”
DeMoss built his private studio in 1975, and his last major addition to the studio was built in 1985.
“We had a big commission for a church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, so we built the slurry room in 1998,” explained DeMoss. “We did bronze doors that were 14 feet tall and 8 feet wide, so we needed a large foundry facility for that.”
DeMoss has commissioned for places all over the United States, and some of his bigger pieces sell for up to $75,000 each. Most notably, his contributions to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles in 2002, for which he fabricated 12 large bronze angel “candleholders,” have brought him national acclaim. He has also created work for churches in Texas, San Diego and Laguna Hills.
“I knew I wanted to be an artist at 8 or 9 years old, but most kids think that,” said DeMoss. “But when I started casting metal when I was 15, I knew that’s really what I wanted to do.”
DeMoss admits that he was a troublesome student. When he would get thrown out of his high school geometry class, rather than go to the principal’s office, he would go to his art class instead. It was then that his art teacher introduced him to metal shop, where he began to take a liking to his craftsmanship. He read about the lost-wax process, and started casting bronze in his mother’s home oven.
“At first I did some small pieces that we cast in aluminum, so I made them from wax.” said DeMoss. “And then I made my own investments from formulas I got from books.”
The biggest sculpture he created in metal shop was about 14 inches tall.
But his mother’s oven was too small and he wanted to expand his talents. He sought out foundries in his hometown of Paramount, and the first two turned him down. The third foundry brought him in, poured his molds, and they ended up doing about 16 pieces during his time there. DeMoss said he bumped into one of the very same foundry owners just 20 years ago, who revealed that he thought DeMoss was “nuts” all those years ago.
DeMoss eventually went on to graduate with a Master of Fine Arts degree in conceptual art from Claremont Graduate School. He went on to teach at Mt. San Jacinto College, for 32 years, where he built the college’s foundry, and retired only 10 years ago.
He currently stays busy, working on commissions from the comfort of his own home. He often has guests over for parties or fundraiser events on his expansive 10-acre property, where visitors can enjoy his artwork from his home gallery.