The Cheerful Ease of Coastal Living (detail), 2024, mixed media on paper, mounted on panel


The Exhibition Opening for First of the Last Beach Days will take place on May 03, during St. Augustine’s First Friday Art Walk from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.

The seacoast is a place of pattern and rhythm, from the punctuality of the tides to the hypnotic cycle of waves crashing and receding. Increasingly beaches also act as a bellwether for the climate crisis. They are subject to the chaotic force of hurricanes which are capable of sweeping away millions of cubic yards of sand, and the impending catastrophe of sea-level rise that threatens to wipe out beaches, as we now know them, all together.

Mike Taylor’s exhibition of graphite drawings and watercolors at the Lightner Museum, First of the Last Beach Days, places the flattened and abstracted figures of beachgoers into environments made from unruly patterns, creating images that hint at familiar forms without capitulating to narrative. Taylor, who began his artistic career drawing underground comics, says he grew tired of the medium’s formula of “People in a Place doing a Thing,” and with the show at the Lightner is exploring “the vibration of figure and ground,” and “what it takes the eye to believe in physical space, and how far you can push that perception before the whole picture collapses into nonsense.”

The deceptive simplicity of a two-dimensional, monochromatic image, drawn without scale or perspective, belies the complexity of Taylor’s process for the graphite works in First of the Last Beach Days, which involved using eight different kinds of pencil. The result evokes collage almost more than drawing—a piecing together of disparate elements that seem to have originated somewhere off of the page and were then recruited for uneasy cohabitation in Taylor’s dissonant landscapes.

Excerpted from Sasha Wiseman

About the Artist

Mike Taylor is a Florida based artist whose work incorporates drawing, painting, printmaking, and music. Born in Tampa in 1976, he received his BFA from the University of Florida. He has been an artist in residence at Yaddo and a finalist for the 2020 Creative Capital artist grant. His work is represented in many private and institutional collections, including The Getty Foundation, Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art, Harvard University’s Art Museum, and The Library of Congress.


Eighth of the Last Beach Days, 2024
Graphite on Bristol Board

About Lightner Local

Created to showcase the extraordinary talents of artists who live in the Northeast and Central Florida regions, Lightner Local is supported by the Benjamin and Jean Troemel Arts Foundation.

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