Milwaukee sculptor Richard Taylor’s commissions is "A
Beam of Sun to Shake the Sky," the pair of bright red
pieces on display on the Wells Street side of Milwaukee’s
It’s best to
watch your step in Richard Taylor’s Riverwest studio, where
precisely cut pieces of aluminum and steel are resting on the floor,
waiting to be brought to life. Taylor’s brilliantly painted
sculptures punctuate spaces from Hardy Ivy Park in Atlanta to City
Park in Beaverton, Ore., to Gen. Mitchell International Airport.
painting and drawing, Taylor says he was inspired to try sculpture
during a graduate art history class at UW-Milwaukee. Professor Jeffrey
Hayes exposed him to the colorful, abstract work of sculptor George
Sugarman and, says Taylor, "it was a real ‘light-bulb’
While in grad
school, Taylor was hired as a part-time artist-in-residence by
Quad/Graphics founder, the late Harry Quadracci. "Harry had this
egalitarian notion," Taylor says. "He wanted everyone in the
plant to be inspired by visual art."
Quad/Graphics press room, Taylor drew a mural on the wall and invited
everyone in the shop to help complete it, like a huge paint-by-number
piece. At the plant, he learned how to use computers in design, and
the workers in the metal fabricating shop taught him how to weld.
"There’s something meditative about welding," Taylor says,
because of the exacting nature of the task. "You put creativity
aside and there’s this element of craft that’s very
uses the techniques he learned at the plant to work in two directions
— site-specific pieces that are typically commissioned and personal,
and more expressive works that are sent to the Tory Folliard Gallery
in the Third Ward and galleries across the country.
Taylor often has
to bid on public projects, submitting sketches in what amounts to an
artists’ competition. That’s how he was commissioned to create
"A Beam of Sun to Shake the Sky," the pair of bright red
pieces on display on the Wells Street side of Milwaukee’s Central
Library. "There was a national competition, so I felt honored to
win," he says.
One of Taylor’s
biggest challenges was his "Singing Sky" aluminum sculpture
for the city of Beaverton, Ore. The piece was taller than his studio,
so he had to lay it on the floor to work on it. That was nothing,
however, compared to the challenge of delivering the 16-foot-high
lucky that my wife, Lynn, likes to drive trucks," Taylor says.
They rented the largest truck they could find and maneuvered it,
gingerly, across the Rockies.
intimate wall sculptures and indoor standing pieces are
representations of personal memories, others pay homage to his
favorite poets and writers. Music factors into the process as well. He
plays the saxophone, and always works to the sounds of jazz, baroque
and classical music. Elements of syncopation and rhythm turn up in his
compositions. But, he says, "I want people to bring their own
thoughts and experiences to the work."
Taylor’s work is featured
in a two-man show with Rodger Bechtold at the Paine Art Center,
Oshkosh, through May 20. It can also be viewed at www.taylorsculpt.com