While working for a retail paint and art supply company in Lansing, MI. in 1990, Brad was presented with an opportunity that, to him, felt as if it literally "fell from the sky". Michigan's state capital was in the midst of a major restoration. By chance, a representative of Evergreene Architectural Arts from New York City happened into the store that VanderMoere was working in. In his hand were several Munsell color chips that needed to be matched, formulated and custom-tinted into commercial paint. The project Evergreen was contracted for had slowed to a halt due to paint samples being rejected by the state's conservator. At that particular moment, there were no approved color matches for their artists to apply and their efforts to match them fell short of the extreme scrutiny required. With his eye for color, his education in color theory and experience custom tinting colors with billboard enamels, Brad was quickly offered a position with Evergreen. First, as a paint mixer and eventually as an artist. "Stir Stick", as he was affectionately(?) called by his peers, matched and mixed over 350 colors into commercial paints, artist oils and glazes. The project experienced no more slow downs due to lack of approved paint colors.
Working and traveling with Evergreene for 3 years exposed VanderMoere to many prestigious projects: state capitals, museums, theaters, universities and churches, just to name a few. It expanded his ever growing knowledge of paint, paint application, artistic replication and most importantly, what he has come to understand as, the Trade of Art and artistic services.
"There was a time, not long ago, when artists and craftsmen were paid to execute and apply their talents in various trades or professions. Artists, Decorative Painters, Woodcarvers, Plasterers, etc. made their livings performing work that we just don't see anymore. Or at least not as much", VanderMoere says. "And it's unfortunate, because so many of these skills and talents, the Trades, are disappearing or have been compromised; either by technology, affordability or lack of know-how."
After living and traveling "on the road" non-stop for somebody else, Brad decided to establish his own company. In 1994, VanderMoere Studios, a Decorative Painting and Conservation/Restoration business, was established. After 2 short years, the company had grown to employ 7 and was contracting with historic theaters and churches, public businesses and private residences within the state of Michigan. It would be another 8 years of living and traveling on the road for VanderMoere who, during this time, began reassessing the path that his life was heading.
"It soon became apparent that when I secured a contract, the individual(s) that hired me expected to see me on site doing the work, not just my help. I came to realize that I preferred it that way too, so the growth of my business was scaled back. I was the one finding the projects, working on the projects and conducting the business of the company. I didn't mind the responsibility or the challenge, but living the life of a "road dog" was killing me. I basically had no life beyond the work I was doing. I loved the work, but I was no longer willing to live the lifestyle that it required".
So, after completing the conservation and restoration of the Walter Burridge act curtain for the Ramsdell Theater, VanderMoere "retired" from life on the road. It's not overlooked by the artist that, although his name may not be signed beneath the works that he has performed, examples of his work will be around long after he is gone.
"It was an honor to have served a role in the preservation of these trades and with the projects that I was privileged to be involved with. But it was time for me to give myself the chance to do what it is that I've been given the gift to do. And that gift is creating artwork."
From the time he was a young child, Brad VanderMoere was always appointed as the one "who could draw". Whether this was his destiny to become an artist, or the mere fact that this was something that he thought he was supposed to do, to this day remains a mystery to him. What he has come to understand, as he reached adulthood, was that this ability was bestowed upon him as a gift.
His professional artistic career began in the winter of 1984 after graduation from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was employed as a printmaking assistant for artists Gerald Hardy and Marilyn Davis in Salisbury, Connecticut. His tasks included inking and printing the plates that the artists created. He was also responsible for cutting and assembling the matting and framing of each piece. This was his first introduction to the business of creating artwork that was to be sold to the public through the galleries that represented Mr. Hardy's and Ms. Davis's work. His Uncle and Aunt had graciously provided him with a place to live in their home in Falls Village, CT. On their property was a building that his Grandfather had began to convert into a guest cottage where his grandfather and grandmother could stay during visits. Although the building never achieved this purpose, it made for a perfect studio for Brad to continue his painting and as a future space for his cousin Ian Johnson. With the artwork that he created during this period of his life, and soon to follow, he attempted to exhibit these works for sale with little success. He has attributed this experience as the result of a young artist with little to no knowledge of how to bridge the gap of creating artwork with the business of selling artwork. Naivete', ego and his art student mantra that, "one doesn't create art for money", provided him with exactly that. It was a chance encounter, in 1987, with his friend Markus Pierson that presented him with the opportunity to make a living utilizing his artistic talents. He was offered a job as a pictorial artist/painter painting billboards. Although he was not creating artwork that was his own, he was consistently producing large scale pictorials on a daily basis and being paid in a way that he had not been accustomed to. This experience gave him his first real introduction of the "trade" of art talent for income. With the development of computer generated billboards looming on the horizon, VanderMoere realized the days of needing artists to create billboards were numbered. The continuing and challenging search for ways to trade his talent for money began anew.