I first saw Brian Taylor’s Open Book series last July at Photo San Francisco at the booth for Modern Book, where his work was hanging side by side with my collages. I was truly delighted to be in such good company. His Open Books are wonderfully tactile, poetic, and mysterious. I can’t make up my mind which one is my favorite, but I am quite fond of The Good Wife (pictured above), because I am married to a passionate fisherman. Others from the series that particularly touch me are Lake, Boy, Indian and Somewhere A Man’s Shoes Are Wet.

So it was particularly exciting for me when Brian agreed to visit my class at JFK University last week. He gave a generous artist talk, covering his beginnings through to his most recent work – richly textured gum bichromate landscapes. I loved learning more about the labor intensive process of creating the Open Books – they do have multiple pages in them, but are meant to be displayed so that you can see only the center spread. Each holds hidden mysteries.

Brian’s presence also sparked good conversation among my students about the meaning of art. I jotted down two quotes he shared. The first was by Henry Miller, who said “Paint as you like and die happy.” The second was a story from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel in which a chess player loses his winning luck because “he stopped moving the pieces with love.” Brian explained how in collage and mixed media work, what really matters is that you “move the pieces with love.” He admitted that can sound schmaltzy, but whether you use the word love or creativity, passion, excitement, or energy – it all boils down to the artwork benefiting from that kind of enlivening force. And his Open Books are certainly a testament to the power of that force.