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STREETSEEN  |  Kyle Taylor

Photo by Steve Roberts

Kyle Taylor: Making His Mark

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

Kyle Taylor, 31, has been making his mark on Memphis. For the last six years, Taylor has been adding to our city’s artistic landscape with commissioned murals. Raised in Frayser, then Lakeland, Taylor began to realize his artistic leanings while in high school. 

“I had a mentor, Eddy Efaw, who was an art teacher at Harding Academy,” recalled Taylor. “The thing that stuck with me the most about Eddy is that he said, ‘Kyle you are really talented, but I’m not going to be able to give you everything you need to succeed. However, I’m going to be your number one cheerleader until you get to college.’ And he did just that, giving me more tools, articles and research to help me develop. We still maintain our relationship — he’s the reason I’m doing what I’m doing today.”

After high school, Taylor attended Oklahoma Christian University. There he studied advertising design and graduated with a BFA degree in ad design, with a focus on illustration. He felt compelled to move back to Memphis and found work with a historic photography company.

“My job was to go through photography databases and pull historic images that could be marketed,” explained Taylor. “From there I worked for AudioGraphics Masterworks, a CD and DVD manufacturer in Bartlett. There I cut my teeth in audio graphics work.”

Taylor transitioned into agency life, working for BigFish, but when the company relocated to Austin, TX, Taylor took the opportunity to begin freelancing.

“It was during that time that I started doing more mural work,” said Taylor. “UrbanArt Commission chose seven local artists and trained them to be muralists through the organization’s District Mural Program, funded by the City of Memphis’ percent-for-art program.”

Since then, Taylor says most of his work has been commissioned-based. His images can be seen on the Sterick Building in Downtown Memphis, as well as on Highland where he painted Mark Gasol as a matador. There are other murals on prominent display in Midtown; a tribute to Chris Bell, guitar player for Big Star, at Otherlands Coffee Bar, and an oversized pair of eyeglasses at Eclectic Eye. In conjunction with the hotel being built at Central Station, there’s a large portrait of Teenie Hodges, of the Hi Rhythm Section.

“Two of my most recent murals involve an extremely large installation (80 feet wide and 20 feet tall) inside the new ServiceMaster headquarters in Downtown Memphis,” said Taylor. “The company’s Innovation Lab is located on the former site of Tower Records. On the ground floor I’ve completed murals showcasing themes of creativity and innovation, what it means to take an idea from the blueprint stage to completion and to market.”

Taylor credits a combination of influences for instilling his hunger to make the best artwork possible.

“From the support of Eddy at Harding Academy to the boot-camp style education I received from my college professor, David Crismon, both stoked my passion for art. They gave me a desire for conceptual strength and quality of work,” said Taylor. “If I’m asked to create something, I don’t want it to just take up space, I want it to be impactful.”

Now this Memphis-based artist-designer-illustrator, who is also the full-time creative director of Choose 901 (which is the marketing arm of City Leadership) has another exciting project on the near horizon. Taylor is collaborating with Erika Smith, owner of Crazy Beautiful and Stock&Belle, to form a studio space and a gallery at 387 S. Main.

“Our intent is to tap into the underground art scene in the Memphis region, giving people the experience of a real in-your-face art gallery like those in New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia or Chicago,” explained Taylor. 

 

STREETSEEN  |  Mac Edwards

Photo by Steve Roberts

Mac Edwards: Feeding Body and Soul

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

Food is what brought Mac Edwards to Memphis and food continues to give direction to his life. In 1977, Edwards moved to Memphis with Denny’s and has continued to work in the food service industry for the last 40 years. 

There were multiple locations with Denny’s as he moved from cook trainee to General Manager, then subsequent positions with Dobbs House, The Pier, and Ruby Tuesday’s. He also worked for the much-beloved Gonzales and Gertrude’s in Overton Square, as well as other local favorites like Huey’s, Half Shell, Melos Taverna, and Riverside Grille. 

Along the way, Edwards learned the industry from the inside out, from cooking to waiting tables, from management to sales. In 1997 he stepped up his game and became the owner of his first restaurant, McEwen’s on Monroe. It was followed by The Elegant Farmer (which morphed in The Farmer) and Brooks Pharm2Fork. Now all of that experience is being put into play in his latest venture as Executive Director of Caritas Village.

Caritas Village was founded in December 2006, when Onie Johns open the doors of a former Masonic Temple in Binghampton that had been converted into a community center. Designed to give friends and neighbors a place to nurture their bodies and their souls, Johns succeeded in establishing a place where hospitality was provided for all and barriers of race, age, income and culture were broken down.

In December 2016, Johns retired and fundraising efforts began for much needed renovation projects and upgrades to the facility. When Caritas reopened Edwards was at the helm.

“We’re back and inviting the community to join us for farm-to-table style food,” said Edwards. “By design, our food is simple and straight forward. The menu features dishes like patty melts, sloppy joes, and roasted chicken. Also, we offer a meat and two plate and a veggie plate, plus there’s soup every day. Good food that warms you.”

Edwards continued, “We keep the prices down so we can offer the menu to everyone. We have 80 seats and offer quick food service. We also have a ‘pay-it-forward’ program where diners can pay more than their tab to help provide a meal for someone else.”

In addition to providing managerial oversight for recipes and menu development, Edwards also has responsibility for the center’s daily operations. The latter includes being an event planner and booking groups and organizations wanting to use the space.

“We have a small conference room available for nonprofit organizations,” explained Edwards. “For instance, we have hosted the local chapter of the Sierra Club and Jacob’s Ladder, as well as Bible study groups. It all is part of continuing the legacy that Onie founded. Our Artist-in-Residence, Jamond Bullock, is planning a mural project for our neighborhood. And, we’d like to feature local musicians on occasion and present some wine dinners as fundraisers. Our primary funding is based on matching funds from the Assisi Foundation, so financial support and in-kind donations are always welcomed.”

Bottom line — Edwards is excited to be leading the next chapter of Caritas Village. “Now that we’ve re-opened, I hope people will rejoin us at Caritas, come eat great food in a comfortable atmosphere,” concluded Edwards. “We offer a safe afterschool place for kids and we’re working to re-establish programs for the entire community. It all supports our mission of breaking down walls of hostility between the races and building bridges of love and trust between the rich and those made poor.” 

For more information about Caritas Village, check out their Facebook page or their website CaritasVillage.org.