Taylor Creates, Captures Beauty

by | Aug 1, 2010 | Community, Features

Story by Jeannie Stone

Mary Jane Taylor, owner of local business Taylor Nursery, loves to create beautiful landscapes for her customers. Following her through one of the greenhouses to show a customer a potential plant, Taylor rattles off the names and traits of each plant that elicits an “ooh” or an “ah.” Mary Jane, orchestrator of this magical beanstalk of a nursery, chooses a different medium to capture beauty. For the purpose of posterity, Taylor paints with watercolor.
Though she fell in love with the heart-shaped cyclamen during a recent trip to Israel Taylor, a former Russellville High School business education teacher for 30 years, doesn’t paint flora.
“What I love to paint are old structures,” she said. “I like old houses, old trains and antiques.”
Her subject matter, for the most part, is local landmarks often unrecognizable to folks who did not hail from Pope County. Some of her paintings depict scenes such as downtown Hagarville, the old Pope County Courthouse, an old cotton gin, the old Pottsville train depot, the Tech barns, the lovely Augsburg country church with a white-steepled spire. Each painting represents 15 to 20 hours of time.
“One of my family friends, Charles Oates, gave me a photograph of the old Galla Creek bridge in Pottsville. Those are the types of things I like to paint,” she said.
Not surprisingly, Taylor’s taste in books compliments her painting focus. She reads historical novels.
Taylor learned painting while taking evening classes from Polly Loibner, who taught across the hall from Mary Jane.
Taylor learned the basics of watercolor from Loibner but laid her painting aside to address the multiple responsibilities she faced in her life without husband Raymond who passed away in 1988.
“After the funeral, my nephew (Bob Taylor) and I were looking at each other over the table in the nursery office and wondering what we were going to do with the business my husband started,” she said.
“Bob had already been working with my husband, and we decided we could make a go at running it together. We have run it over 20 years together. I guess we make a pretty good team.”
The business celebrated 32 years on July 4th. “And I’ve been here almost every day,” she said.
Running a business has been hard work, and to off-set the stress of paperwork, bills and serving customers, Taylor returned to her painting.
“I carry my camera anytime I go on a trip, and I add the images to the gobs of ideas I carry in my mind for painting ideas,” she said. “I decided I needed to do something for me.”
Taylor loves to travel on her own and with local groups. “I go on Royalty Tours two or three times a year. It doesn’t matter to me where they go. I always have a good time. They are good people.”
Taylor laughs as she describes her painting style. “There’s not a teacher on this planet who would teach the way I paint,” she said. “I make a royal mess, but I just enjoy piddling.”
Although the public is welcome to view her paintings on display in the nursery office, they are not for sell.

“I do not sell. I do this for me,” she said. Many of the paintings are renderings of places that carry sentimental value for Taylor like the painting of the path leading up the mountain.
“I still have the first watercolor I did, and one of these days I might even frame it,” she said.
Taylor has sown plenty of verdant Russellville gardens and has rendered interpretations of local landmarks for future generations, but her piece de resistance, representing the essence of the beautiful world of Mary Jane Taylor, is the love she has artfully poured into the people surrounding her.
“I have a lot of really good employees,” Taylor said. “They try really hard to please the customers, answer questions and help them find what they’re looking for.
“Her employees all love her,” employee Mary Hollabaugh said. “She’s very compassionate and art-wise with the plants as well as her painting. Even her old high school students come in here and tell her how much she meant to them.”
“She’s a good person all the way around,” fellow employee C.W. Gilbreath added. “Trust me; she has a good heart.”
Taylor recently bought an old house in Russellville, built in the late 1800s by Dr. Campbell, known locally as the old Bubba Houston Insurance house.
“It is a two-story building full of opportunity,” she said. “I took out some of the concrete, and put me up a black rail fence, and I put in a flower here and there,” Taylor said. You can see her draw the picture of possibilities in her mind’s eye.
“Currently, I’m painting the old Palace Hotel which was on Dennis Lowe’s Auto Parts parking lot. Then, I’m going to do a watercolor of my old house,” she said.
To Mary Jane Taylor life is all about creating beauty and art.

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