A surveyor, rock mason, painter, artist…Howard B. Taylor blended together all his experience and knowledge in science, history, and art to form the Living Rock Studios, a two-story, 800 ton rock building, which contains 75 original wood carvings, 125 bird paintings, and seven one-of-a-kind Living Rock Pictures.
It all started when Howard B. Taylor, his wife Faye and their three daughters Nancy, Gail and Penny, moved to Brownsville, Oregon in 1952.
“My father worked as a surveyor for many years; then in 1964, right after the floods, he had three strokes and a heart attack,” said Nancy Bergerson, the eldest daughter. Howard was 52 years old at the time.
Howard’s recovery was slow and painful. His wife, Faye, took up work cleaning houses to help provide for the family. Unable to work, Howard started to learn oil painting. His favorite subjects were birds.
As his health improved, Howard designed and built a lamp using thin slices of rock instead of glass. Once the lamp was turned on, the colors inherent in the pieces of rock were enhanced.
Amazed by the wonderful transformation, Howard decided that he would create paintings out of rock. By illuminating the paintings from behind, Howard achieved the same effect as the lamp.
Howard devoted the next four years to creating his most celebrated art – The Living Rock Pictures.
The plans for the Living Rock Studios started in the 1960s. Howard designed the studios around the seven Living Rock Pictures so each pictures would be presented with an exact lighting.
“I’d be a hopeless cripple if it hadn’t been for this work. Some days I wake up and think I can’t do a tap of work. But I almost always do, even if I can’t start until noon.”
Howard had collected rocks for more than 50 years, bringing home specimens he found while working as a surveyor. Using the rocks he had collected, Howard and his extended family started building the Living Rock Studios stone by stone.
The building was constructed over a ten year period by Howard, his wife, their children, grandchildren and a small amount of volunteer labor. The building materials were donated by friends or purchased by Faye. Fred Smith’s family who live in Brownsville donated the bulk of the building stone with the concurrence of Mr. McGowan. Unusual stone was donated by the Hill interest, the local milling interest and about a thousand of Howard’s rock hound friends.
It is very difficult to determine the number of man hours involved in the building construction or creation of the various displays. The project progressed as health, time, and money permitted. The result was a stone building that is part museum and part art gallery, containing hundreds of rocks, paintings, carvings, and pioneer artifacts.
The Living Rock Studios was completed and dedicated on October 13, 1985, Howard and Faye’s 50th Golden Wedding Anniversary.
Over the years, Faye and their eldest daughter Nancy would show visitors through the studios with guided tours. Howard continued to do what he could to add to his growing collection of paintings and carvings.
Howard died in 1996, only three years after his beautiful wife, Faye, had passed on. Today, the The Living Rock Studios continues to welcome visitors who wish to see Howard’s life work.
Friends of The Studios
The Living Rock Studios continues to stay open thanks to donations from our visitors and friends.
If you have enjoyed the studios and wish to support us with a one time gift or ongoing support, you can donate by clicking the button below and using a credit card, debit card or paypal account.
The Living Rock Studios
911 W Bishop Way
Brownsville, OR 97327
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10:00 am – 5:00 pm
There is no set cost, but a donation of $3 per person is requested. We are unable to accept credit cards at the studios. Cash only please.
Reservations are suggested for groups of 10+. To schedule a tour, call (541) 466-5814.