Retired architect turns attention to art

Thomas Mosiej, architect
Thomas Mosiej, architect

By Graham Sweeney
Special to The Express

When Bartlett’s Thomas Mosiej discusses his lengthy career as an architect, it is sometimes hard to follow a single chain of thought.

Because the eager 85-year-old has designed hundreds of buildings throughout the Mid-South, he frequently shifts from one to another during the course of a conversation. With a resume that includes the V.A. Hospital, J.M. Smuckers plant, Nike Shoe Distributio nCenter and Bartlett Shopping Center, it becomes easy to see why.

Recruited from Illinois to Memphis in 1961 by modern architecture visionary A.L. Aydelott, Mosiej had a front row seat to the myriad innovative styles being used by the best local draftsmen.

“I came in at the right time,” he said. “When I got here Memphis was on the move.”

After working under Aydelott for six years, Mosiej branched out on his own. What followed was a successful career that spanned nearly 30 years.

Now retired, Mosiej does more than merely reflect on his professional successes. His drive to create has not wavered.

The walls of many local government buildings, banks and eateries are proof.

After hanging up his tracing paper and architectural scales in 2001, Mosiej picked up watercolor painting in an effort to stay active.

“I don’t like to get bored,” he said. “I just want to paint.”

His paintings now adorn places like BartlettCity Hall, Perkins Restaurant, Piccadilly Cafeteria and Side Porch Steakhouse.

Much of his work has been purchased by local jeweler David Weimar.

“He buys all of my originals,” Mosiej noted. “He knows after I die that they will be worth money. I have to die first.”

Mosiej has created painted scenes inspired by famous and local buildings, original designs for watches, clocks and jewelry, and abstracts from his childhood and college days.

The artist has already filled four calendars with examples of his work, including paintings of Bartlett parks and historical buildings.

His most recent offering is a journal, or “note pad,” featuring 13 paintings of famous Frank Lloyd Wright buildings.

Mosiej, who met Wright in 1949 during a lecture at the University of Illinois, has long admired and studied the work of “America’s greatest architect.”

The journal features watercolor paintings of Wright’s most famous works, including the GuggenheimMuseum, “Falling Water” and the Fredrick C. Robie house. It took Mosiej less than a year to paint all 13 works, two of which have already sold.

Mosiej’s journal can purchased for $15 by calling (901) 505-2233.