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A Sanctuary of Ideas // Philadelphia's Magic Gardens by Taylor Adams

I recently visited Philadelphia for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised by how much inspiration I took away from the weekend. Simply walking through the streets I noticed a spectacular range of color - from lush greens and earthy brick tones to the dazzling mosaics and unexpected pieces of street art hidden around every corner, I was constantly stopping to snap a photo.  

Among this impressive range of color was of course Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. This visionary art environment created by Isaiah Zagar left me entirely fascinated.

On the vacant lots near his studio, Zagar spent years constructing multi-layer mosaic walls out of found objects. What began in the late 1960's as an attempt to beautiful the South Street neighborhood, these "gardens" grew into a space that not only helped revitalize the area then, but still actively inspire and encourage community engagement. 

TaylorAdams_ArtistBlog
TaylorAdams_ArtistBlog
I prefer work that appears to come out of a changing focus.
— Isaiah Zagar
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From bicycle wheels, glass bottles, china plates, kitchen tiles, and fragments of mirrors... Everywhere you look there's something new to see, and something new to discover that you may not have noticed at first glance. Walking among these walls, you get the sense that they're truly telling a story. Conversations in color and form, every surface right down to the floor is a mapping process of Zagar's thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Through letters strung together tile by tile, anecdotes and personal narratives refer to fragments of Zagar's life. And all of the sudden you feel as if you may be walking through the grottos and stairwells of his mind.

TaylorAdams_ArtistBlog
TaylorAdams_ArtistBlog
I built this sanctuary to be inhabited by my ideas and my fantasties.
— Isaiah Zagar
TaylorAdams_ArtistBlog

This intricate display of visual information creates an impressive space that allows you to be completely immersed within an artwork. It truly speaks to the accessibility of art, for something as ordinary as a bicycle tire can be transformed with a new perspective. I'm happy to know that places like this exist - I think it's important for people to be shown that art doesn't always have to be a painting on a wall. It can be a feeling, a place, an experience. 

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From What I Remember // Reconstructing A Landscape by Taylor Adams

Whenever I step into the world, whether I am conscious of it or not, I like to think that I am cataloging everything I see and experience, and storing it for future reference. Every color, sound, and texture gets filed away, and all the little extraordinary moments too - the ones that are not easy to capture by camera or word. The way the wind whispers through tall grass or the softness of a mist of rain masking the treetops as it delicately falls to meet the ground.

Some of these moments get collected into folders - folders of places. The place with golden light, the place where the storms roll in, the beach I love most, the lake I grew up on..

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My sister and I took a walk along the road that leads to our family's house on Lake Keowee. Along this road a field expanse stretches up and tumbles down to chase the rolling land, and with it comes the sounds and colors of the lake I call home. Home to countless summers running barefoot and carefree.  Bug bites and fresh berries, burnt marshmallows and fireworks, sunsets and rope swings, waterfalls and secret coves, tan legs and red clay.  Add in spring with fresh blooms and sweet breezes, autumn with crisp leaves piled high in every color, holidays with pine trees and chilly air wrapping everything in a blanket of soft grey...

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All of these memories, all of these experiences are components of this place, right down to its soil and water. Hand-stitched into the fibers of the landscape, a collection of moments tell the story of my past, my present, and my future. Filing them carefully into a folder in my mind, I carry each moment with me as valuable resource.

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Hand-stitched into the fibers of this landscape, a collection of moments tell the story of my past, my present, and my future.
TaylorAdams_FromWhatIRemember

So I take out this folder of memories, open it up and let it spill out its color and form onto my surface. Speaking in energy, breathing in color - my memories build a space that tells their story. They reconstruct the landscape from the silky waters of the lake to the rugged mountains in the distance, and every day that begins and ends resting upon their silhouettes.  

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"From What I Remember"
Thread, Ink & Acrylic on wood panel
11 x 14 in
This piece is available for sale here.

TaylorAdams_ArtistBlog_FromWhatIRemember

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Calmer Waters // Collaging with Found Media by Taylor Adams

One of my favorite ways to find inspiration is visiting the used book section of thrift stores. Among shelves packed with old books, I've found some true gems - Nature in Design, Surface and Structure: Contemporary Japanese Textiles, The Living Planet... just to name a few of my favorites. These books come packed with beautiful photographs that make the perfect content to pull inspiration from, and the best part is they're usually less than a dollar.

My work is created with a mixture of thread, ink, acrylic and watercolor on a cradled birch wood panel surface. Sometimes I'll work strictly with wet media to create the abstract painting beneath my threads, but other times I'll introduce another layer to the surface of my panel before picking up my paints. Tearing pages from my collection of books, I construct a collage with pieces of found media that catch my eye - fragments of lush forests, aerials of oceans, rocky cliffs and looming mountains. These various bits and pieces of the natural world come together to build one landscape on my surface.

After sanding down the collage, I apply a thin layer of white acrylic, masking it entirely. Once it dries, I sand it down once more, rubbing away at what I have covered up. It's a give and take. The translucent layer of white combined with sanding allows some of the original color and form to reappear on my surface. When I pick up my inks, this history of mark informs the colors I introduce to my panel as I explore which fragments of media to pull inspiration from. It's a process of masking and revealing, of building up and breaking down, observing the world that lies within my panel and constructing a version of my own.

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My work has always held a key interest in bodies of water. For this particular series, it came as no surprise to me that I pulled many fragments of different bodies of water from my books. From aerials of oceans, to gushing waterfalls and winding rivers, I wanted to pull out a sense of calm among this chaos of form and constant motion. I wanted to capture those fleeting mystic moments when water lies enveloped in sheets of fog - the hazy blankets slowly releasing water from its sleep and revealing a new day, a new horizon line. As I dropped inks upon my surface, I reflected on the swirl of colors that hide within these organic bodies, constantly shifting and changing with the light. A symphony of color and movement, there is an element of tranquility that water carries with it - it's rhythmic motions have the ability to calm even itself.  With each thread I wrapped, I worked to imitate this therapeutic nature and capture the ethereal beauty of the break of morning light upon its surface.

Meditation / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Meditation / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Softly Morning Comes / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Softly Morning Comes / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Shoreline / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Shoreline / Thread, Ink & Mixed Media / 8 x 8 in

Pieces from the "Calmer Waters" series are available for sale here.

From Above // An Aerial Perspective by Taylor Adams

I could spend hours looking at aerial views of the many landscapes that compose our Earth. Wild, infinite spaces have such an ability to impress me. A symphony of color and texture - rising, falling, reaching, and growing to create the place we call home. A constant state of motion, full of living light - it's something I can't resist exploring.

Zoomed out, miles above, you can see so much at once. Rivers stretch and bend chasing the curves of the land - searching for lakes and oceans to pour themselves into over and over. The ocean embraces the shore - covering the sand with a blanket of foam, retreating only to return. Evergreen trees shoot up from the ground - climb the backs of mountains, rise with them to touch the sky and breathe life into the air. Fall and rise again. A world of relentless determination. A support system intertwined with one purpose. Listen, watch, learn. Take note.

An early morning fog creeps across the land, gently waking up what lies beneath. Soft, quiet sheets whispering across water, rolling through hills, and slipping through branches of sleepy pines and silver maples. A steady stillness to wake up the wild. The first instrument to play in this daily orchestra. How lucky are we to be instruments too? To walk among the web of elements speaking in energy, breathing in color. Remember your part. Inhale, exhale, and begin.

These pieces are available for sale, contact me at tayloradamsart@gmail.com for more information.

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Storm Watch by Taylor Adams

I’ve been thinking a lot about weather systems, about the beauty of storms. Those looming forms to which we have no control over. Wild energies that disrupt, dismantle, and remind us we are small. But there is beauty in this chaos. They show us fragility. They show us strength. They teach us to retreat, reconstruct, and keep moving forward. With my threads I bind together these wild energies, these organic beings that can’t be held. Breaking down the chaos into the simplest form - a line. A line becomes two, then three and many more, and just for one moment, I’ve caught the storm.

What if we could catch these atmospheres? What if we could hold them in our hands? Feel their pulse and throbbing heartbeat saying, ‘I am here. I am living and breathing this air that you breathe.’
— Sketchbook excerpt
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Sea Gypsy by Taylor Adams

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My work is largely inspired by an utter fascination with bodies of water - probably because I've never lived anywhere that was too far from one. This piece came to me in waves, with every new layer bringing a new sense of understanding, and after awhile, revealing to me the specific place I was pulling from. When I discovered this spot while living in Charleston, I loved it immediately. Somewhere among the gnarled trees, the scattered bits of shell and shark teeth, I found a place to think, to draw, to dream. I spent many early mornings and dusky evenings sitting on the shores watching the water, working away in my sketchbook, and simply soaking in its atmosphere. Folly Beach, often known as the Edge of America,  became my reset button - a constant source of inspiration, reflection, and a landscape to explore in the realms of abstraction.

It was a giant reset button. You could go to the edge of the land and see infinity and feel renewed
— Andy Sawyer

This one's for you Folly Beach, I hope to see you soon.

Sea Gypsy, 22 x 28 in, Thread & Mixed Media
This piece is available for sale, email tayloradamsart@gmail.com for inquiries.