Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Furniture and Watercolors: Don and Helen Taylor at the Edge Center Gallery

Inlaid wood-worked art rooted in personal experiences of Korean War contrasted by watercolor paintings with a cheerful, colorful, and humorous look. What a sharp contrast visually and emotionally. This is what two area artists present in the Bigfork Edge Center Art Gallery starting September 25th. Husband and wife team Helen and Don Taylor from Deer River provide impressive reflections of their different personalities within this single show. The exhibit presents wonderful watercolor art and impressive craftsmanship in wall hangings and furniture. The exhibit begins on September 25 and continues through October 25.  Join the artists at the Opening Reception on Friday, September 26 from 5:00 to 7:00.  Edge Center Gallery is next to the Bigfork School and is open from 10:00 to 4:00 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. There is no charge for the gallery or reception.

Don’s woodworking and Helen’s watercolors have some things in common.  Both are colorful, expressive and high quality.  From there they start to diverge.

Don Taylor works in wood in a controlled way, inlaying small pieces of various kinds of colored wood into tables and wall pieces in linear patterns.  The meaning of the work becomes clearer when you know Don’s background.  He spent 4 months on the front lines in Korea with months of treatment in a military hospital. In 2001, his wood panel “Blood, Death, Electroshock and Confinement” (above) took First Place in the Korean War Experience category and Best of Show at the 2001 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Prescott, Arizona.

He said, explaining this piece, ”The three black panels and the single red panel represent the four months I was on the front lines in Korea, as well as a lot of death and blood.  The four panels and five white bars represent nine months in military hospitals with the two colored panels representing the two months of being subjected to electroshock therapy resulting in severe brain damage.  The multicolor pieces of wood used to make the panels represent the physical brutality of the ECT treatments.  The five wood bars also represent the five years of memory loss I experienced because of ECT brain damage.”

Taylor began woodworking in 1980 but it wasn’t until 1996 that he began to use woodworking as a therapeutic form of self-expression. “Creative woodworking gives me a reason to look forward to getting up every morning knowing something good will probably happen that day- either by design or accident,” said Taylor,  “Woodworking has increased my sense of self-worth by at least ten fold.”

Four pieces that have won gold metals over the years will be part of the exhibit of his work at the Edge.  He is now a successful cabinetmaker in Deer River.  His work still contains the symbolism that is based on his war experiences.

While Don’s work explores an emotional side, Helen’s lively, charming watercolors are full of color, cheerfulness and some humor.  They are realistic, but loosely painted in bright colors, capturing the essence of the subject matter.  Helen has done her expressionistic paintings on site around the globe, documenting the couple’s world travels.  There are paintings of the Taj Mahal, Thailand and Hawaii as well as paintings of northern Minnesota where she has lived most of her life.

Helen was born and raised in Eveleth, studied art at St. Cloud State College and taught art from Fargo to Edina, before settling in Deer River.  She continued her education with painters Don Kingman in New York and Mexico, Milford Zomes and Robert E Wood.  Helen was part of the early Itasca Art Association.  She became president of the group helping Ruth MacRostie found an art center in a theater building in Grand Rapids. Her work has been in juried exhibits at the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnetonka Art Center, and won first place in a Minnesota Artists Association exhibit.  Her work has been exhibited in Japan, Minnetonka Art Association, MacRostie Art Center and Rutgers Lodge on Sugar Lake.

Meet this talented couple and see their work at the free Opening Reception on Friday, September 26th from 5:00 to 7:00.  The exhibit continues through October 25th.  Edge Center Gallery is next to the Bigfork School and is open from 10:00 to 4:00 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  For more Gallery information and updates, see

No comments:

Post a Comment