Kara Taylor creates a garden of the imagination

"40 Flowers" at the Kara Taylor Gallery —Sam Moore

There’s a magical quality to the work of Island artist Kara Taylor. Although she changes her style and subject matter frequently, what always comes across — whether in a landscape, a mixed-media piece, or a figure study — is a dreamy quality that distinguishes her work.

Ms. Taylor’s latest series is no exception. In honor of her 40th birthday, she has created 40 flower paintings — each unique, and each representing a period in her life.

The tall, skinny (12-foot by 65-inch) panels each feature a fantastical, vaguely irislike flower built up with oil paint, bits of vintage lace, embroidery, fabric, and carefully integrated pieces of reclaimed molding or wood sculpted with a jigsaw by the artist. Touches of gold leaf add an otherworldly sheen to the images.

The 40 paintings are currently taking up three walls of one room in Ms. Taylor’s charming rustic Chilmark gallery. Walking into this floral fantasia is an experience well worth a visit. It’s a bit like strolling through an exotic flower garden, but there’s also the sense of entering a storybook landscape. The exhibit is one of the most stunning installations on the Island now.

There’s an art nouveau flavor to the work. The artists who come to mind when viewing the flower paintings are painters who similarly treat reality with more than a touch of mystery: Gustav Klimt, or Odilon Redon.

The elegant flowers have an almost anthropomorphic quality, each telling a story or expressing an emotion. Ms. Taylor was inspired in part by the Victorian idea of the language of flowers, that individual species have their own meaning. The palette is characteristic of Ms. Taylor’s work — moody, subdued colors which heighten the enigmatic quality of the work — with the touches of gold providing glimpses of enlightenment.

Ms. Taylor was born and raised on the Vineyard, and throughout her artistic career she has proven herself unparalleled at capturing the Island’s elusive, magical essence.


The Kara Taylor Gallery, located on 24 South Road in Chilmark, is open in the summer Tuesday through Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. “40 Flowers” will be on display through the end of August. For more information, visit karataylorart.com.


This article by Gwyn McAllister originally appeared on mvtimes.com.