Moss talk at Camden library

May 29, 2014
An early promotional photo depicts Marilyn and Bill Moss with the Eave Tent.

Camden — Marilyn Moss will give an illustrated presentation titled Bill Moss: Fabric Artist & Designer Tuesday, June 10, at 7 p.m. at the Camden Public Library. The talk will draw on Marilyn Moss’ recently published book on the late Bill Moss, co-founder of Moss Tents and one of America’s most innovative fabric artists and designers — and a true pioneer in the creation of tension fabric structures. The book recently won an IPPY Independent Publishers silver award for best regional book.

Moss’ Tent Works Ltd. was established in Camden in 1975 by Marilyn and Bill Moss. The contributions of Bill Moss to mid-20th-century American culture were manifold. First changing the world of camping with the invention of the Pop-Tent, he went on to shake the world of fabric architecture with the many forms that we now take for granted. Illustrated with lavish and historic photographs, the book chronicles Moss’ creative life from his early years until his death in 1994.

Woven into this tale is the story of an award-winning Maine company, Moss Inc. Engaged in the creative economy long before most people used the term, the company also was known as being one of the most socially responsible businesses in the country, a reputation that held fast through its sale by CEO Marilyn Moss in 2001.

Marilyn Moss is a freelance writer living in Camden. Her other publications include “Walkabout,” a compilation of personal essays; and “Dancing with Democracy,” an article on Joyce Banda, president of Malawi. A co-founder of Moss Tent Works in the 1970s, she has been widely recognized as a successful and responsible business leader. She also has been a board member at numerous Maine nonprofit organizations. She currently is working on her memoir, “From the Appalachian Mountains to the Camden Hills.”

Bill Moss was born in 1923 in Detroit, Mich., and showed his artistic talent at an early age. He studied art at the University of Michigan, the Layton School of Art and at the Cranbrook Academy of Art before getting a job as an artist for the Ford Times in 1949. In 1955, he designed the Pop-Tent, today widely credited with changing the world of camping. In 1960, he established his own design firm, C. William Moss Associates, in Ann Arbor, Mich., and in 1975 he and Marilyn Moss co-founded Moss Tent Works in Camden to design and produce innovative, high-performance camping tents, backyard and beach products and architectural canopies. Bill left the company in 1983 and later worked as a painter and designer in Arizona until his death in 1994 at age 72.

Marilyn Moss joined C. William Moss Associates in 1961 and in 1975 co-founded Moss Tent Works with Bill Moss. She went on to serve as president and CEO of Moss Inc and in the 1980s diversified the business by introducing tension fabric technology to the worldwide trade show industry. This experiment was so successful that the company eventually sold its tent division to REI and began focusing exclusively on trade show exhibits. Moss Inc grew to have 164 employees and revenues of $15 million. In 2000, it was sold in a successful equity investment transaction.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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