Photography by Jeff Hunt
This is the third in a four-part series we're doing with Creativity Explored. CE's mission is "to provide developmentally disabled people access to the human right of creative expression." Please listen to Part 1 and Part 2 and check back next week for the final episode in this series, with artist Vincent Jackson. You'll hear Vincent a little in the background as he sat in with Jeff and Paul during the recording.
Paul Moshammer is the offspring of artists.
In this episode, we get to know the director of programs at Creativity Explored. Paul was born and raised in Vienna. His dad was an architect and his mom was a gold- and silversmith. They encouraged Paul's creative energy from a young age by sending him to various art schools. Around 19, he felt he already had a strong artistic voice, something schools weren't so much looking for.
He started to travel around this time, and ended up living and working on a kibbutz in Israel. He met his wife, a Cuban-American, there during this time. After three months on the kibbutz, the young couple started to travel together. Eventually, Maria went back to her home in the US while Paul stayed on in Kenya for five weeks.
Paul arrived in San Francisco in October 1989—two days before the Loma Prieta earthquake. Maria was already here and had discovered Creativity Explored before Paul's arrival. An art teacher from earlier in his life had talked about the art of children and folks who were institutionalized and it had left a strong impression on him.
He stuck around for four hours on his first visit and ended up volunteering in early 1990. He was soon hired as a substitute teacher, and when there was an opening, Paul got the job. Vincent Jackson was at the table Paul took over, and they've been working together ever since.
We chat a bit about Florence and Elias Katz, the cofounders of Creativity Explored. Paul never met Florence, but he knew Elias well. Vincent steps in to share stories of Florence with us.
Paul skims over some of the highlights of his 30-plus years with the organization. They were in crisis, as he puts it, when the original director left. The second director rescued them, so to speak, and one of her innovations was to open the front of the 16th Street space to the public in the form of a gallery for CE artists to show and sell their work. It was an instant success.
We wrap up this episode talking about what it means for Creativity Explored to still be here, especially in its role as an art space for folks with developmental disabilities.
We recorded this podcast at Creativity Explored in the Mission in January 2022.