Trés Taylor is starting what he calls the Revolution of Joy! To spread the joy the self-taught artist uses pops of color and playful imagery in his tarpaper paintings.
The business: Trés Taylor Works on Tarpaper started in 2002 in Birmingham. The business, including the artist and his manager-wife Helene, will relocate later this year to Taylor’s childhood farmhouse (Sweet Apple) in Mentone, Ala., atop Lookout Mountain.
The artist: Born in Orlando, Taylor grew up in Birmingham, Ala. As the third William Henry Taylor, he was nicknamed Trés. Taylor graduated from the University of Alabama (UA) and earned a master’s degree in biochemistry at the UA at Birmingham (UAB).
After working as a scientist for 20 years at UAB and at the University of California at San Diego, he met Georgia folk artist R. A. Miller while making a film about outsider artists. With Miller’s encouragement, Taylor quit his job to become a full-time artist in 1999.
The process: Taylor paints and carves on tarpaper (known as roofing felt), using latex paint and wood putty.
What’s popular: The Bicycle Monk is Taylor’s signature image. Taylor named him William Guadalupe, the patron saint of sunflowers, birdsongs and the broken-hearted. The monk, who loves life, rides through villages tossing flowers and shouting, “Wake up.” A 58-inch-by-58-inch Bicycle Monk is $5,500; a 36-inch-by-36-inch painting is $1,800 to $2,000.
Other favorites: Couples, houses and monks ($150 to $8,000) who are always symbols of love. Subjects can range from a slender, single image of a woman holding flowers to larger paintings of couples in boats.
Why monks: They symbolize the simplistic, peaceful and reverent lifestyle to which Taylor aspires. He believes we all have an inner monk.
Style: Modern Primitive
Special project: Taylor created a 14-foot sculpture of what he called “The Jolly Lama.” The sculpture stood as a greeter, welcoming the Dalai Lama, the Buddhist spiritual leader and Nobel laureate, to Birmingham in 2014.
Viewers were invited to step inside the monk and place folded origami cranes for peace. A troupe of traditional Tibetan musicians danced and played around the sculpture.
Awards: “Featured Artist” at 2016 La Quinta (Calif.) Arts Festival and the 2013 Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver.
Father-daughter collaboration: Taylor and his daughter, Lillis Taylor, an industrial designer, have created artful textiles inspired by his art. Visit lillistaylor.com
What’s new: The Revolution of Joy! A public art project in a partnership with Colorado-based Can’d Aid. Taylor, along with volunteers, is painting 20 murals in small towns across Alabama’s so-called Black Belt region.
The murals are designed to attract visitors and boost the area’s economy. The three completed murals are in Birmingham, Greensboro and Selma.
Where to buy: www.trestaylor.com
Get social at: Trés Taylor Works on Tarpaper on facebook and instagram