Salisbury gallery shows off Taylor's wildlife paintings 35 of 40 originals in his book are on display


January 31, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

John Taylor's wildlife paintings are being presented at the Ward Museum of Wildlife Art's Changing Gallery in Salisbury through March 14.

Taylor, of Edgewater, is one of the Chesapeake Bay's best-known wildlife artists. All of the original paintings on display are featured in his best-selling book, "Birds of the Chesapeake Bay," published by Johns Hopkins Press.

"We managed to collect 35 of the 40 original paintings contained in the book for the showing," Taylor said during last week's ceremony conducted by the sponsoring Ward Foundation.

Taylor credits his wife, Marilyn, with getting "Birds of the Chesapeake Bay" published.

"As far back as grade school I have been fascinated by wild birds, and for some reason that I can't explain, I began keeping a journal of what I saw during my adventures in the marshes and along the bay," he said.

"One day, Marilyn took some of those journals and a few paintings to the publisher and she didn't tell me about it. Eventually, they invited us up to Baltimore for lunch and they surprised us -- I was flabbergasted -- with a proposal for a full-sized hardback book. Heck, I thought that maybe we'd get a small pamphlet containing edited portions of the journals, at the very most."

Marilyn Taylor told me a slightly different story.

"I knew that John's journals were a treasure. When I contacted the publisher the first time, I couldn't get past the receptionist. I just kept hammering, then . . . I asked for 15 minutes, then 10 minutes and finally begged for just five minutes. I finally wore them down enough to let me get inside the door," she said.

The book is a combination of wild-bird paintings accompanied by a natural history narrative taken from the Taylor journals.

Taylor studied art at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington. He then became the artist-editor of the old Maryland Conservationist magazine, published by the former Department of Game and Inland Fish.

As a free-lance artist, Taylor won commissions from the National Geographic Society and the National Wildlife Federation, among many others. In 1974, his painting of mallards was chosen as Maryland's first Migratory Waterfowl Stamp. Since then he has won additional stamp competitions in Maryland and Florida.

Taylor paints almost daily at his Edgewater home, where his "airy, sunlit studio overlooks Pennington Pond where I see swans, kingfishers, great blue herons and all kinds of ducks and songbirds."

Taylor's talented hands also know their way around the strings of a banjo.

Bill Perry, co-founder and Hall of Fame member of the Easton Waterfowl Festival, says, "John Taylor has been a featured artist at the Easton Waterfowl Festival since it began, but another thing he does -- and without needing to be asked -- is to stroll around town during the festival and play the banjo as a walking minstrel."

The Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, 909 S. Schumaker Drive in Salisbury, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and college students and $2 for children. During the current Birds of the Chesapeake show, there is a $10 maximum admission for families.

The museum also celebrates the art of decoy carving. In addition to housing three galleries full of paintings, carvings and sculptures, you also will find an exact replica of decoy makers Lem and Steve Ward's Crisfield workshop. The Ward brothers are the namesakes of the foundation.

The Ward Foundation also sponsors the Ward World Championship carving competition. This year's competition, which draws the world's best carvers, is April 23, 24 and 25 at the Ocean City Convention Center.

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