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Gainesville artist has passion for hot metal
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Artist Jane Taylor stands among metal she uses for her sculptures. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

‘Rustications'
What:
An exhibit of sculptures by Gainesville artist Jane Taylor, showing along with "Generations" and "Contemplations"
When: Through Sunday
Where: Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St., Gainesville
More info: 770-536-2575

A friendly black and white mama cat quietly pads between the metalwork outside Jane Taylor's shop on Cleveland Highway in Gainesville.

The newcomer is welcome, but Taylor admits she's more into a different kind of stray - lonesome metalwork and scraps of wood salvaged from old homes. Pieces she can pull apart, reweld, repaint or otherwise rework into something new.

Taylor's exhibit, "Rustications," on display through this weekend at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville, is the polished up, spit-shined version of her eclectic Gainesville store, which she's had for 13 years.

The exhibit glows in its cut and polished metal glory - sculptures include wall sconces made from piano legs, iron furnace covers molded into mirrors and a proud Statue of Liberty dressed in bent screen and holding a solar-powered light. And that's one way to see Taylor's pieces, under the soft glow of indoor lighting where any one could stand as the centerpiece to a room.

The grounds of her shop, Cottage Garden, tell the rest of the artist's story, with thick rusty chains draped over a tree limb and more bent screen serving as decorative "curtains" along a barn next to the driveway. The more you look, the more you see.

"I don't like things being thrown away. If I see a piece of broken metal, I'll try to fix it," Taylor said. "I'll drag in any stray out there."

After owning her antiques store for a few years, Taylor said she began seeing some of her items differently. Some, she realized, could serve a new purpose as a plant holder or a lamp or even a wall sculpture. She began sending items out to be welded, but the process was expensive and, she said, she never got quite what she wanted.

So, with the help of her dad, she set about learning how to weld herself.

"It's not difficult; it's just a dirty job," she said. "From that, I started selling pieces, little candle holders, stuff like that, and it turned into my passion."

Today, Taylor scours flea markets, auctions and other antique stores looking for old iron work or wood from old stairways, moldings or chair and table legs. Many of her finds are placed around the grounds of her shop, like the family of turtles near the house holding flower pots or the futuristic maid-looking figures greeting you as you walk up the path; they have shovels for heads, stove fronts for bellies and billowy screening for a skirt, embellished with crystals from a chandelier.

Much of the wood is turned into "birdellos," or what Taylor calls "tacky birdhouses," with bright colors and front porches.

Some pieces are made on commission, she said. Others, like Annie's Wings, on display at the Quinlan, are simply made out of love.

I just fell in love with bits and pieces," she said, pointing to some pieces of rusted metal along the side of the driveway by her shop. "You know, those are going to be wonderful ... something."

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