In Profile

David Moore

BY Sarah Schmerler, January 1, 2011

We all get just one life, but David Moore, who runs Pictura Gallery in Bloomington, Indiana, has found room for at least two at present count. The 53-year-old born-and-bred Midwesterner divides his time equally between the thriving elder-care business he runs with his three siblings (CarDon & Associates, managing some 16 facilities to date) and the thriving 1,500-foot contemporary photography gallery (the only one of its kind in Indiana) that he runs with his wife, Martha. What’s more, he finds a creative outlet in both. “Senior health care is a dynamic business; it’s got real estate, customer service, dealing with the medical community, marketing….There’s a real breadth of experience and a certain creativity there that you might even call artistic. I transferred those skills into a gallery situation.” Moore’s 50th birthday in 2008 marked the launch of Pictura Gallery. It was a beautiful day in November, and a sweet piece of glass-fronted real estate on picturesque Courthouse Square had just opened up. “Fifty is one of those times when you take a look at your life and figure out what the next part of it is going to be,” opines Moore. “It was time to pull the trigger.”

Moore’s multi-faceted career has been shaped by a mix of open-mindedness and determination, with a healthy dose of photo enthusiasm thrown in. As a high school kid growing up in Bloomington, Moore favored the sciences and classes in foreign languages. In 1977, after graduation, he joined the Air Force and served for four years as a linguist and translator (Serbo-Croatian was a specialty). Immediately following his military service, Moore enrolled in a pre-med program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, obtaining his B.A. with the hopes of a possible medical career. But, for the next three decades, the family business intervened. No complaints there. “There are lots of ways to be involved in something you like to do,” says Moore. “As a kid you think you want to be a doctor or a fireman. For me it wasn’t going to strictly be ‘being a doctor,’ but it was about helping elderly people. The gallery is in relation to that. Photography had always been a love of mine; but one day you just realize, ‘I’m not going to be the next Ansel Adams. But maybe what I can do is help the next Ansel Adams get a jump start.’”

Moore had, for decades, been a devoted photo hobbyist, pursuing workshops and exhibitions whenever he got the chance. Now, as an entrepreneur with years of good team management under his belt, he’s set about hiring—and trusting—four employees, including an archivist, a researcher, a social-media specialist, and curator Lisa Berry, with whom he assembles all the shows. The gallery favors color work with good formal sense and a strong narrative: urban landscapes loaded with portent by Joe Johnson; compelling scenes of daily life amid Chicago’s urban blight by Matt Nighswander; and, during the month of January, a series called Windows of the Soul: My Journeys in the Muslim World by photojournalist Alexandra Avakian. Though Pictura doesn’t offer exclusive representation to the artists it shows just yet, it does have a clear mandate: to show the work of living photographers—the newer to Bloomington, the better. At least 50 percent of the people Moore has championed are deserving Midwesterners, and that’s just a start. “What I’m finding frustrating on certain days, but challenging overall is: How do you discover someone new, and promote them? How do you get a potential buyer to trust his instincts? I’m not so interested in the secondary market,” says Moore. “I love the thrill of discovery.”