Community: Traction Avenue, Henry Taylor

Community: Traction Avenue, Henry Taylor

By Luke Warner

Photos by Oliver Kish


We have been based out of our office on Traction Avenue since 2007 and during these past four years we've come to know and love our neighbors in the Arts District. A week rarely goes by without a visit from our Vespa riding neighbor Henry Taylor, whose presence always fills up our whole office and keeps us entertained as he holds court in his now paint-splattered indigo wool chore jacket.

Henry was born in 1958 and raised in California, hitchhiking around Ventura as a teenager. He began seriously painting in his 20s and got his degree from CalArts in 1996. But wasn't until 2004, when the Sister Gallery took up his cause, that his talents were brought to the public's attention and since then he has exhibited internationally including New York, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, with two paintings currently at MOCA in Los Angeles.

He finds the simple acts of daily life to be an important part of an artists's work and considers himself to be constantly working, constantly looking for shapes and images that inspire him. Henry grew up in a family of six boys and two girls, all fed and clothed thanks to their mother's tireless work ethic as she held down a variety of jobs. Although it was often hard to make ends meet, Henry notes that, regardless, everyone was always smiling. He also credits a 7th grade teacher for believing in him and taking the time to make him feel like he had something to offer. Before he began painting full time, Henry worked as a psychiatric technician for ten years which might help explain the sense of compassion and patience for the world around him, that just pust a smile on your face when your with him.

His life has been filled with the friends and experiences he has picked up along the way: from his impromptu flamenco nights in Spanish bars to painting portraits of Haile Selassie's grandson to hanging out with Bob Marley after a concert. Next up for him is a show at Los Angeles' Blum & Poe in March. He recently let us take a look around his studio, directly above our office, and graciously allowed us take some portraits and photographs of works in progress. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

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