RODNEY RAY TAYLOR, a local abstract artist whose evocative paintings hung in galleries from the Lincoln Center to Mexico City, died in Buffalo General Medical Center on Dec. 9 from kidney disease complications. He was 53.
Born and raised in Buffalo, he spent his early years in the Fruit Belt neighborhood before moving to the Elmwood Village, where he further developed his love of art, including summer work at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. His own work would later hang at the gallery.
A coming exhibit of his work will be shown at the temporary Albright-Knox Northland location starting next month.
“He always said the Knox belonged to him because it belonged to everybody,” said his wife, Annette Daniels Taylor. “He just felt so comfortable walking in and just absorbing everything that was there.
It was his church, really.”
Mr. Taylor graduated from Lafayette High School and attended Villa Maria College before transferring to the Fashion Institute of Technology.
He also took classes at other colleges, pursued master’s degree coursework at Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College in the Hudson Valley, and was awarded a fellowship to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. He met his wife, then a wardrobe stylist, while working at a cafe in New York City. The two would go on to have four children together while he continued to pursue his artistic ambitions, which drew inspiration from the struggles of urban life. In a 2017 interview with The Buffalo News, Mr. Taylor said his abstract work had nothing in common with comfort and security.
“I’m not interested in people’s comfy life,” Mr. Taylor said, noting that he purposely keeps his studio cold and uncomfortable as a reminder that he is there to work.
After being diagnosed with kidney disease, his family convinced him to return to Buffalo in 1999. He would eventually undergo two kidney transplants.
Mr. Taylor taught some art classes, but his wife said he found that experience much more
frustrating than producing his own work, which was exhibited internationally, as well as locally at the University at Buffalo Art Galleries and the Albright-Knox.
His paintings featuring notions of home will be featured at the Albright-Knox Northland location from Jan.
17 to April 12 as part of the “Open House: Domestic Thresholds” exhibit. A 6-by-16-foot painting by Mr.
Taylor, titled “A Song for My Father,” hangs in the lobby of the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The painting honors Mr. Taylor’s father, Phillip Owen Taylor, who served as Roswell Park’s first African American X-ray technician.
In a write-up for his memorial fund, Annette Daniels Taylor noted that her husband loved listening to Steely Dan, Charles Mingus, Rickie Lee Jones and Fela.
“He loved to take me dancing and enjoyed playing and watching basketball and drinking good chocolate milk,” she wrote.
Aside from his wife, survivors include two daughters, Mingus and Bleu-Ruby Daniels-Taylor; two sons, Haven and Winter Sky Daniels-Taylor; a sister, Phyliss Renee Hall; and a brother, Phillip Taylor Jr.
A memorial service will be held in Albright-Knox Northland, 612 Northland Ave., at a later date
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