Lipscomb receives unique art collection of more than 100 pieces from Taylor family

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Don't miss the April issue of Nashville Arts magazine with a three-page feature on the Taylor Art Collection.

A selection of works are now on display in the Ezell Center main floor lobby.


Lipscomb University students will have the opportunity to learn from a unique collection of paintings that were recently given to the university’s College of Arts & Sciences (CAS).

From left to right: Paul Stovall, Dean Norma Burgess, Rick Guthrie, Dr. Dean Taylor, President L. Randolph Lowry and Bennie Harris.
"Go To Market"
Street of Siena
Winter Haze

Dr. Dean Taylor, a former pathologist at Nashville’s Centennial Medical Center, recently donated more than 100 paintings to the CAS in memory of his late wife, Mary. The Mary Elbert Taylor Art Collection is valued at more than $275,000 and is comprised of pieces his wife assembled over a span of nearly a decade. She died in 2012.

“I realized she had put together a fine collection of paintings,” said Taylor. “Each piece in the collection was selected by Mary for a particular reason—because of the colors, the subject or other aspect that was meaningful to her. I wanted to find a way to keep the collection together to use it for teaching and study purposes. I am delighted that the collection has gone to Lipscomb because the collection will stay in Nashville, and it will be used as a teaching tool.”

A selection of works from the Taylor Art Collection are now on display in the Ezell Center’s Sanders Baxter Hall on the main level of the building. Pieces of the collection will also be displayed throughout campus in the future as well as used in art classes.

Dean said his wife had a lifelong interest in art. She majored in visual design at Southern Illinois University and worked as an artist in retail advertising at various department stores for 12 years. She also created oil paintings for a hobby. But, Mary first developed an interest in collecting art when she visited West Wind Fine Art in Manchester, Vt., and bought several paintings she found in an exhibit there. She returned to Nashville and began to study art through magazines and talking to gallery owners, collectors and artists.

“Mary learned about a treasure of Russian paintings that were being allowed to leave the country about 10 years ago. They were growing in market value, and she acquired a number of these paintings. That’s the predominant focus of the collection,” said Taylor.

Lipscomb alumnus and framer Rick Guthrie worked with Mary to frame many of the paintings in her collection. He said the paintings were very special to Mary.

“Mary was an artist,” said Guthrie. “She was very aware of what the paintings looked like in various lighting. We would talk about the colors and frames. She was also very generous with her collection. It wasn’t unusual for her to give pieces away to friends because they had a particular meaning to one of them. She was a very generous, wonderful individual.”

Guthrie said Taylor, who moved to Arizona in November, asked him for guidance about what to do with the collection when Mary died. He said he suggested donating them to his alma mater, Lipscomb, as an “avenue for continuing to grow its permanent art collection.”

“If you see this collection as the planting of a seed, the return on the investment can be much greater than merely displaying these beautiful paintings in public spaces on campus,” said Guthrie. “The possibilities are endless.”

Norma B. Burgess, CAS dean, said that in addition to growing the university’s art collection, the Mary Elbert Taylor Art Collection it will be a valuable teaching tool for students.

“Many of the pieces were painted by noted local, national and international artists who have used various techniques in their work,” she said. “The collection adds significant depth to instruction in Lipscomb’s Department of Art. We are very fortunate to receive the gift.”

Art department chair, Warren Green, said the paintings will have “great pedagogical uses” for students.