Honoring the Souls of Trees: Michael Taylor Photographs at the Dexter Gallery
A rushing side hill waterfall slowed to a silky white blur; a solitary white snag still hovering over an open meadow: this is the spirit of Michael Z. Taylor’s fine show of black and white photographs currently showing at the Don Dexter Gallery at 2233 Willamette, Suite B in Eugene.
This show of our wonderful native trees is called “The Willfulness of Being.”
The photographs are portraits of tree individuals, some in the fullness of youth, others well along into biodegradation. For example, the silky white waterfall holds the bones of a long fallen cedar. Michael calls this “Final Resting Place.” The light-filled water stands in smooth contrast to the exposed lateral fins of the darkly textured cedar.
The photo of the white snag is called “Requiem in the Glade.” The word “requiem” acknowledges the lifespan of this great one. It’s branches are extended in a mute gesture of “do not go gentle into that good night.”
One of my favorite images in Taylor’s show is called “Footprint.” It is a tree’s root system exposed like a spread out octopus on the beach. The roots are dug into the rich darkness of the duff, but their surfaces are leached white. The dark and light contrast between the reaching arms and dark soil brings my eyes back to this photograph over and over.
I admit that I am a sucker for our local Oregon white oaks, the way every branch and twig sometimes is highlighted in pale lichen. Taylor’s “Rugged Old Oak”positions the entirety of an oak against the darkness of a forest receding behind it. Every branch glows; it looks like a thousand-armed chandelier lighting up the room.
I hope you will find time to stop in at the Dexter Gallery to see this important show. It will be open through the end of March.