Sunday, February 14, 2010

A REPOST FROM MAY 2006 Featuring Montage Art: Maggie Taylor/Jerry Uelsmann

copyrighted image by Maggie Taylor.

It's indeed a small world. When a Finnish fellow art lover on MySpace posted to me about a wonderful digital artist she'd discovered named Maggie Taylor, I googled her, saw she was from Gainesville, Florida. Years ago, I remembered my old (former) friend, an master of darkroom montages, Jerry Uelsmann telling me he was marrying one of his former graduate student who did stunning ditigal work. Another bio showed she was indeed his wife She works from photos and also from things she collects at old shops and scans them in her flatbed scanner (I had to wonder if she'd ever scanned her head, like I have :-) Her final work is all digitally rendered, though.

One of several sites for her work is at

A book, Adobe Photoshop Master Class : Maggie Taylor's Landscape of Dreams (Master Class ), describing some of her techniques was listed, but the write-up on says it's more of a showcase of her work (enough of a reason to buy it, alone) and less of a step by step, but gives some of that. It can be found at:

Amazon site for Landscape of Dreams

A book, Surreal Digital Photography (Paperback)
by Barry Huggins, Ian Probert, lauded by readers as having excellent step by step detail for creating montages in Adobe.

The link at Amazon is HERE.

Even if you don't like montages (a combination of images to make a meaningful whole) or surrealism, it seemed useful to me to see just what was involved to get these types of images, techniques which could be used to create other types of images , as well (though I admit, I love the surrealistic work, myself).

As a boon, on my old friend's site, I found video clips of him describing his work. He has permanent exhibits at the MOMA (he had one there when I knew him), The Smithsonian and a number of other prominent places. In the late sixties and early seventies, he gave me four signed and numbered prints. I gave three to a local art gallery in the eighties and kept one. I knew he'd had a show at the museum and that his work would be much appreciated by them and by patrons of the museum.

I see now that his work from that period goes for around 6 or 7 thousand dollars! This was his third marriage and, upset by 'female voices from his past' contacting him (he was in his early fifties and still a charmer), he finally asked all former female friends or loves to have no further contact with him to save destroying yet another marriage (It was already causing upset at that point). A loss. Jerry was a fun and loving friend. Still a kid at heart.

I hadn't seen him since his thirties. We met when I was in O'Hare in Chicago, waiting for the snowed-in commuter plane to take me back to grad school from Christmas holidays. He was teaching at Gainesville and visiting art friends where I attended school at the U. of Illinois. The airlines finally limoed us down and he and I were good friends by the end of the trip. He had his portfolio with him and his work bowled me over. I was to find out that, only in his thirties, he was already an icon and cult underground figure. For around five or six years, whenever he had a show close to whereever I happened to be living, we spent a day together, just exploring the area and, once, dancing down a Chicago street. When I lived in Boston, he got me into a one day darkroom workshop he gave there for 12 people. I was a rank amateur with a cheap enlarger in my bathroom. The others were aiming for professions in this field, so I felt lucky for that opportunity.

No, no romance between us. Just friendship.

I see in his vids that yes, he's older but he still has that same grin (and all of his hair, too). He's just past 70 now and going strong. So many good memories came back seeing him again, along with a bit of a tug that the connection has been lost.

His site is at:
Jerry Uelsmann: Legend

It's well worth a look to see some of his images, vids, and explantion of his darkroom work too. I still have a few cards he made for me and images with letters on the back. Since I only framed his mounted ones, many of these are worse for wear, even though kept in a folder, unfortunately. He sent the one below when he'd just heard he won a Guggenheim Fellowship and we were planning our Chicago visit.

The one with the angel is clearly a Valentine's Day card and so typical of his fun-loving creativity. The one with flower in mouth(see, I'm not the only one who does that:-) is a status report on the beard he was growing out. The last one was done on metal, so didn't scan well. Click any of these to enlarge.

Below is one from his website to show how intricate his work has become over the years. Remember, this isn't digital. It's all in the darkroom. I love this particular image. It's called 'Untitled'. Again, click to enlarge.

Note: There was no way on either artist's site to contact them, so I hope that by citing the links that if either ever see this blog, it'll be seen in the spirit of admiration in which it was done, with some leeway given for my former friendship with Jerry. With contemporary artists I always get permission before posting their work on my website with poetry.

With good memories!




J. Andrew Lockhart said...

interesting work ---

Pris said...

Yes, I think they're both so gifted.

Ellen M Johns said...

I enjoyed reading this Pris.The creativity of some people amazes me. I love the card with the red heart and cupid/angel.

There are so many avenues to go down and not enough hours in the day for most of us...ha.

Pris said...

Hi Ellen
I know what you mean. There's so much on the internet that it gets overwelming sometimes just trying to see the few things you WANT to see or do.

Pat Paulk said...

My Monday morning class with Pris Campbell. Love the read and the work, thank you!!

Pris said...

Hi Pat
Thanks. And I have to keep you on your toes:-)

Michael Parker said...

I love Maggie's work! What a fascinating work you posted from her collection! Thanks for this introduction. I too loved Jerry's "Untitled." Amazing work.

Pris said...

Yes, two creative geniuses under the same roof!

Lyle Daggett said...

I first ran across Jerry Uelsmann's work years ago -- found a couple of greeting card and postcard reproductions of his photos. One I remember in particular that I especially liked, of a rowboat floating on water, montaged so that the water looked somewhat ethereal or substanceless, the boat floating simultaneously on water and in space. And a large round moon (or moon shape) rising out of the water, filling half the picture.

Haven't heard of Maggie Taylor before. I'll go check out both websites. Thanks for posting this, Pris.

Pris said...

Hi Lyle
Yes, do check her out. I still can't believe that I was so incredibly fortunate as to be sitting in that Chicago airport and see his work up close when he was just beginning his rise to fame in his field. When I saw his work I knew right away I was seeing genius, and yet he's so unassuming. He gives lectures with no specific notes. Just lets what seems relevant flow out of him. And in the darkroom workshop I got into with him, he found magic in all of our work, inspiring us even more by his enthusiasm, to greater efforts.