By Wynn Parks
Brett Taylor was one of the far-flung children of the Sixties. In the era of high spirits and social revolution, when his peers were opting for demonstrations and the excitement of street politics, Taylor chose a more classic road to romance. He set off to experience the wonders of the wide world—to live large, to jump off into the deep end—no guts, no glory—with Byron and Borroughs.
Taylor was born in Florida, on March 2, 1943, the son of Henry White Taylor, a well-regarded portrait artist from Philadelphia who died when Brett was eight months old. His mother Mykia was a minor poet.
In March 1965, Brett opted to drop out and go not to Canada, but Greece. It wasn’t really a case of “dropping out.” That would have been running away. Taylor was chasing, and running magazine ads seeking applicants in a summer arts program that styled itself The Aegean School of Fine Arts.
Staggered by the whirlwind of graduation, marriage, and going abroad, Taylor and his first wife Nina managed to grab a Greek-English dictionary and a handful of language tapes before they sailed from New York aboard a Yugoslav freighter.
A scant three weeks before the school’s first scheduled session, the two hurried out wires instructing students that, from Athens, they should meet on the island of Paros.
For 17 years, Brett ran an extraordinary school for American and foreign art students, many becoming notables on the American art scene, and at least one of them a Hollywood film producer.
In the spring of 1983, Brett Franklin Taylor died in a hospital in Boston. His ashes were consigned by his widow and a friend to the blue-green waters off the island of Paros. Today, Taylor’s school—now The Aegean Center for the Fine Arts—carries on the work of its founder.
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