Multiple award-winning photographer Howard Moo Young died suddenly at home on Wednesday, sending shockwaves across the artistic community.
Moo Young, who had celebrated his 80th birthday last October, was found by the last of his five children, Alyssa, with whom he had been living for the past six years.
"I came home at about 7:00 pm and found him," Alyssa Moo Young told the Jamaica Observer on Thursday.
"It really was quite sudden. I mean, he was getting older, and he wasn't as strong as he was before, but he didn't have any chronic illnesses. He had a few minor problems, just getting up there in age, but nothing terminal. He was very lively, even up to the day before he was preparing to show at Liguanea Art Festival and getting ready for doing some new work. He had been doing a lot of new drawings recently and he was really excited to show his work again," she said, adding that her father loved to walk.
"I would tell him 'Daddy, you need to stop walking up and down on the road', but he really loved to walk from our house down to Manor Park, which he did even up to last week," she shared.
Moo Young had been a mainstay on the Jamaican art landscape for more than 50 years honing his craft as a photographer, sketch and graphic artist or as a lecturer and mentor.
However, he was also very well-known as creative director of Moo Young Butler and Associates Ltd, one of the island's top advertising agencies he co-founded with Radcliffe Butler.
Moo Young served as an advertising and design consultant to many companies, creating numerous corporate logos, including for Victoria Mutual Building Society, National Commercial Bank, Jamaica Money Market Brokers Ltd, HEART Trust/NTA, National Works Agency, Pan Caribbean Merchant Bank, Jamaica Stock Exchange, Unionbank, Quad Night Club, Christopher's Jazz Café, Shields & Shields, and Eden Gardens.
A graduate of The School of Visual Arts, New York, in advertising and graphic design, Moo Young's creative genius is most easily spotted in his breathtaking photography. He boasts an extensive body of work which have earned him numerous awards dating back to 1979 when he won the Commonwealth Photography Exhibition in Edmonton, Canada. He also captured many more accolades, among them the Centenary Medal for Photography from the Institute of Jamaica, Champion Photographer in the 1982 Jamaica Festival Photography Competition in which he won five Gold, five Silver, and seven Bronze medals, as well as 22 awards of merit. He was also a 2008 recipient of the prestigious Silver Musgrave Medal for Photography and was inducted into the Caribbean Development For The Arts & Culture Foundation's Hall of Fame for Photography in 2003.
He lectured graphic design production at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts for 25 years and mentored youth from Spanish Town and the rugged South Side community in Kingston in photography through the Grace and Staff Foundation.
He had a penchant for leading youngsters on photo-taking trips to various sites across the island, including Harbour View in Kingston after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, Port Royal, as well Morant Bay and Stony Gut in St Thomas.
Moo Young exhibited at the National Gallery of Jamaica, the Trinidad National Gallery, Mutual Gallery, Red Bones Café, King's House, Devon House, and Bob Marley Museum where his images from the 1978 Bob Marley One Love Peace Concert are permanently housed. Easily, the most iconic of those images are those showing Marley joining hands with political adversaries Michael Manley and Edward Seaga on stage in a show of unity.
Moo Young twice served as president of The Colour Photography Club of Jamaica, and was the main speaker and chief judge in the Jamaica National Building Society Foundation's Youth Zoom Photography Competition for high schools islandwide.
He also served as co-chairman of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission Visual Arts Committee, and was a member of the National Gallery Exhibition Committee and The Jamaica Guild of Artists.
His images have been published in Beautiful Jamaica, Insight Guide Jamaica, The JAMAICAN magazine, Skywritings, Marley Reggae King, Jamaica Observer, as well as in many advertisements, brochures, annual reports and calendars over the years.
He was also a contributor to the Sunday Gleaner on photography and the arts.
On Thursday, Alyssa told the Observer that her father lived a good life.
"He accomplished a lot. He was very passionate about his work, very passionate about teaching and about telling people to explore their creativity. His motto was 'Creativity in my mind is invisible, but God has made it visible through my work'. That's really how he lived. He was always doing new things to show his talent," she said.
She remembered him as "a loving dad", recalling that in her childhood years she would sit by the window of their house awaiting his arrival home.
"When I got older, when I was in high school, I used to tell my dad everything. I never hid anything from him. I could always tell him, even if it was something he didn't want to know he was okay because I guess he trusted that I would always stay on the right path," she said.
She shared that over the past six years she would try to get him to take life easy.
"I would tell him that he doesn't need to try and go sell his work, 'I am taking care of you', but he was stubborn and preferred to go out and show his work," she told the Observer.
"Even the night he passed he was to have a full gospel businessmen fellowship meeting. He was very much involved with church and prayed a lot and always encouraged people to pray. He was really proud of making it to 80. He would go out on the road and tell people he turned 80 in October."
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