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Grief is a powerful emotion capable of altering people for the better or the worse. One Sedona woman, Gayle Taylor, has used hers to chalk one up for the aspiring artists. Taylor, the executive director of the Sedona Arts Festival, established the Larry G. Taylor Memorial Fund to honor her late husband.

By Tyler Midkiff
Larson Newspapers
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Grief is a powerful emotion capable of altering people for the better or the worse. One Sedona woman, Gayle Taylor, has used hers to chalk one up for the aspiring artists.

Taylor, the executive director of the Sedona Arts Festival, established the Larry G. Taylor Memorial Fund to honor her late husband.

Offered through the Sedona Arts Festival to people of any age, the fund is intended to help aspiring visual artists further their art education and/or purchase art equipment and supplies.

"I'm trying to help out some people who are a little bit older and they just want to try something new and different in their lives and they don?t have the money to do it," Gayle Taylor said.

There are plenty of scholarship opportunities available for young people, Taylor said.

"It's great to help young people, but there are some older people out there who need some help too," she said.

"Older" could mean artists in their 20s, just out of college and in need of a little help getting started on an art career, she explained.

"What is their dream" What are they looking to achieve and how can I help them?" Taylor said are the questions she asks those who hope to receive the fund.

The most important thing is that they have the drive, talent and passion to pursue their chosen art, Taylor said.

Since moving to Sedona in 1998, the Taylors were always active in the local art community. They assisted with the Sedona Arts Festival, organized the 'Javelinas on Parade' project and donated to numerous nonprofits in the area. The Sedona Arts Center even named them 'Volunteers of the Year' in 2002, Taylor said.

Surrounded by evidence of the couple's years of creating art together, Taylor sat comfortably on the floor of her Sedona home, cradling a half-empty wine glass in her hand. When she spoke of her late husband, the pain of losing him was apparent.

He loved inviting people to come to his studio and work with him, Taylor said.

"He was a teacher and he was always willing to help." For years, the Taylors played with art as mental therapy, she said.

"We didn't get into professional careers as artists until I was in my early 40s and Larry was in his 50s," she said.

Together, they founded Earth & Sky Creations by Taylor, a mixed-media art business that combined Gayle's talents as a ceramist and painter with Larry's talents in metalsmithing and working with ambient lighting. Out of a small home studio, the two created mostly commissioned work for various art collectors throughout the country.

At the moment, Taylor finds it difficult to create, she confessed.

"I'm in the middle of a book and I've closed it for a while," she said. "We'll see if I ever open it again. I don?t know. I just can?t do my art right now. I lost my partner."

For now, she's focused on helping others, she said.

She and the Sedona Arts Festival are days away from announcing the recipient of this year's Larry G. Taylor Artistic Scholarship for high school students in the Greater Sedona area who may not have a high scholastic grade point average, but who demonstrate a strong desire to pursue a career in the visual arts and need money to attend art and/or vocational classes.

?Most art students aren?t necessarily good scholastic students," Taylor explained. "It's because their brains don?t work that way."

She hopes those types of students can benefit from the scholarship, she said.

"He doesn?t know it yet," Taylor said of this year's winner. "But it's going to be a life-changing opportunity for him."

In addition to money, Taylor offers guidance to the winners. With a strong business

background and 10 years of experience as a professional artist, she believes she has a lot to share with up-and-coming artists, she said.

She's always looking for applicants, as well as people willing to contribute to either the scholarship or the memorial fund, she said. She hopes to turn the latter into a perennial offering.

Anyone can contribute by donating through the Sedona Arts Festival. For more information about applying or contributing, call 204-9456.

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