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Mo’Roc: A Closer Look at the “Moe Arch”

Seattle music venue Moe's clown-faced archway

The mid-nineties were a prosperous time for the Seattle music scene. One of the venues that best illustrated that prosperity was Moe’s Mo’Roc’n Café.

Located on the corner of 10th Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Moe’s became a destination for thousands of indie and alternative acts. Notably, Neil Young kicked off his 1996 Mirror Ball tour with a last-minute performance at the venue with Pearl Jam playing main support.

The venue’s physical space reflected Seattle’s independent, artistic spirit, with art exhibits and wire sculpture throughout. Moe’s also had a special thing for clowns. All through the venue and behind the stage, cheerfully giddy clown faces giggled down at guests and performers alike.

Perhaps these manic decorations inspired local artists Graham Graham and Spike Mafford to create this archway. Made with rough lumber and shaped by chainsaws, the artists fashioned the arch to resemble the entryway to an old circus or fun house.

While much of the original design has been replaced or lost, the venue itself lives on. In 2003, Moe’s re-launched with the new name Neumos (pronounced “new moe’s”) and has been successfully presenting live shows ever since.

The Moe arch is a part of MoPOP’s permanent collection and was most recently included as part of the Traveler’s Room outside the Holodome.


About the author

Adrienne is a writer and editor from Seattle and is MoPOP's Content Wizard (patent pending).