by Christy Rodriguez de Conte
It has been said, by those who say things, that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. It is obvious these naysayers have never known the hands of artists, nor have they entered their workshop to witness the heavenly treasures found within.
LeMoyne Arts will feature such gems at their upcoming show celebrating LGBTQ history month, Beam with Pride. The exhibit will feature the work of local queer artist Dan Taylor, whose own idle hands led him to art.
“Twelve years ago I quit smoking cigarettes, finally, and I found I had this stunning amount of time on my hands,” recalls Taylor. “So, I’m like you know what, I’m going to try painting.”
As the smoke cleared, the colors appeared, and Dan Taylor stood amid his own artistic ability.
Born into a musical family where he learned to play the piano and saxophone, he was always encouraged to explore the joy found in music and art no matter the medium or level of expertise. “Our parents always encouraged us to try,” Taylor says.
It was not until later in life that Taylor began exploring his artistic essence, first through sculpture and eventually by delving into the arduous world of oil paints. Oil paint has a life of its own. Its fluidity and thickness make it difficult to maneuver and even more difficult to dry.
“I do abstract-heavy impasto (thick and heavy). Like big globs of paint on a big canvas,” Taylor reveals of his process, “I have paintings that I did 10 years ago that are drying still.” Eventually, he found relief in the discovery of the much more forgiving medium of acrylic paints.
Taylor lovingly recounts his evolution from oil paints to acrylics. “I really thought that I wasn’t going to be able to get the richness of color, the richness of texture, and the depth of color. I didn’t know that I could achieve that with acrylic, and I can!”
Self-taught, Taylor began as a supporter of the arts, producing events like Artopia, one of Tallahassee’s top art auctions, with Big Bend Cares. Taylor evolved from patron to practitioner thanks mostly to the support of local Tallahassee organizations like LeMoyne Arts.
This iconic organization, located in the historic 1854 Meginnis-Munroe House, dedicates itself to the education and promotion of the contemporary visual arts in Tallahassee. LeMoyne Arts rotates yearly exhibits and events that display an array of local talent. Taylor’s first show was one at LeMoyne Arts.
“Right after I first started painting, the executive director at the time, a local artist, asked if I would want to do an emerging artist show. It was well received,” says Taylor. “Since then, I have applied to be in all kinds of stuff at LeMoyne. If there is something I fit in, I apply, because I love LeMoyne and I want to be in their shows.”
Taylor’s work as an activist and board member of Big Bend Cares & the Council on Culture & Arts (COCA) has bled back onto the canvas. Although most of the time Taylor is embracing color, texture, and movement to make something desirable to hang on one’s wall, he uses his art as a way to highlight queer issues.
After the 2016 pulse shooting in Orlando, Taylor painted an abstract rainbow entitled Pulse We Rise as both a celebration of queer life and a remembrance of the oppressive history felt by LGBTQ+ members. Taylor reflects that although we have come a long way, there are still queer people who are subjected to prejudice in the here and now.
Thus, his painting uses colors representing spirit, healing, and the idea that there is still more to be done.
Dan Taylor and LeMoyne Arts join forces again this October for their Beam with Pride art exhibit, filled with Taylor’s work, as well as the paintings of other local queer artists to support the LGBTQ+ community artistically.
Taylor also created a soulful piece, Pride, for the event’s cover art. He gleams, “I wanted something celebratory, prideful, with high contrast and lots of texture to pop off the page.”
This piece has served as a moment of allyship on the wall of Tallahassee City Hall and reflects the vibrancy and pop found in Dan Taylor and his artistry; forever present, evolving, and full of color.