Environmentalist with a paintbrush uses tree-free surfaces for her art

by Laura Cone
The South Tampa News
October 22, 2014

“Party of Two” by Taylor Ikin was an award winner in the
Southern Watercolor Society Exhibition held in Texas in 2014.

   She’s been described by some as an environmentalist with a paintbrush.
   Taylor Ikin, of South Tampa, will share her artwork and the work of artist Joseph Melancon, of Sarasota, during a fall exhibition.  The art show opens Friday, October 24, 2014 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Nuance Galleries, 804 S. Dale Mabry Highway in South Tampa.  On Saturday, October 25 from 1 to 3 p.m., they will have a gallery talk and painting demonstrations also open to the public.
   “It is a nice time to bring in the young artists and those who like to watch the process and have questions they may not want to ask at an opening,” Ikin said.
   Originally from Norfolk, Va., Ikin moved to Tampa in 1961, but later lived in Antigua, an island in the West Indies, from 1971 to 1989.  When she returned to Tampa in the 1990s, she started exploring the hidden treasures of nature, including area back roads and ponds.
   Ikin was able to visit remote locations to sketch thanks to the help of the Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department of Hillsborough County.
   “I had park rangers and county staff members drive me to many locations on which a four-wheeler could go,” she said.  “Sometimes we would be gone for four to five hours depending on distance - sometimes all day.”
   The work she did resulted in a traveling exhibition, The Hillsborough Collection (2003), which includes 40 watercolor pieces.  Many of the paintings still hang in the various offices of the County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.
   “I photographed and did a bit of sketching - gathering the spirit I could capture for the real work, which was to be done in my studio,” she said.  “I learned there is a lot to protecting the land and the community - flooding and fires being the most obvious.”
   Her exhibition, which opened at Nuance in April of 2004, traveled to several museums in Florida plus the 22nd floor of the Capitol Building, the Florida House in Washington, D.C., and the Norfolk Botanical Gardens and ended its journey at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Pinellas County, before a welcome-home event at Nuance Galleries in September 2005.
   When she works with watercolor, she does not use paper.  A self-proclaimed “tree hugger,” she uses “tree free” surface products that are synthetic or made from stone.
   After viewing her art, she hopes people have a greater appreciation for the natural environment.
   “I would like to think they develop a broader respect for what we take for granted - flowing water being one - little things like the Florida golden aster indigenous only to parts of Hillsborough County and a bit more east,” she said.  “My goal was to build an awareness of our natural blessings and to preserve them for the future generations of tomorrow.  I will not get up on my soapbox, but some things only pass this way once and our job is to respect and preserve and educate for the future.  I hope my paintings build the sense of respect and that thought remains visible to the viewer.”
   Melancon, a fellow artist, will be showing his oils and acrylics used with muted earth tones contrasted with bold colors during the fall exhibition.
   For more information on the event, call (813) 875-0511 or visit nuancegalleries.com.

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