Ron Taylor is not a typical artist. He uses unconventional tools to create abstract paintings, and unlike many artists, Taylor does not silo himself in his studio: he believes in community engagement.Since moving to Crown Heights 10 years ago, Taylor wanted to create a space where people in the neighborhood felt comfortable coming in and sharing in his work. A few years ago Taylor held a workshop with kids from the Greater Restoration Baptist Church Pastor Bogan’s church, right next door to his gallery. To continue that trend Taylor set up the front room of his workspace as a gallery, so that the community could come and look at his art.
Taylor wasn’t always based in such an art-friendly area. He moved to New York 1983, and says he appreciates all the artistic opportunities that living here affords, especially compared to Birmingham, Alabama, where he grew up. In Birmingham Taylor was not exposed to nearly as much art and culture; there was no art major at his local college, so Taylor applied to Atlanta College of Art. He started with charcoal drawings and portraits, and eventually introduced color into his work. After four years at Atlanta, Taylor won a fellowship to attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. At Wisconsin he studied a broad array of techniques, and among these was airbrushing. While working on a project making silk-screen prints, he accidentally spilled the glue in a way that caused the ink to bleed through the canvass in some places and not others. This produced an interesting texture, and soon after Taylor began regularly using the airbrush and glue to reproduce that effect.
Taylor’s influences are unusual: rather than taking cues from airbrush artists like Ed Paschke, or other commercial, photographic airbrush work, he was moved by musicians like Sun Ra and Jimi Hendrix. Recently he’s been listening to music with abstract, industrial sounds as he paints. Still, Taylor admits to admiring Van Gogh in his early career, and acknowledges the influence of Jackson Pollack’s color schemes and paint techniques. He loves the movement in Pollock’s paintings, and imbibed his abstract style.