DescriptionROLLA TAYLOR (1871-1970)
Tower Life Building
Oil on burlap
24in. x 20in.
Signed lower left
Once the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, the Tower Life Building opened in 1929 as a Sears and Roebuck store overlooking the San Antonio River. The neo-gothic ornaments and glazed terra cotta surfaces make this 35-story tower the most intriguing landmark of the city. The original structure was designed as the centerpiece of a complex of buildings, but the Depression sank the economy and the plans for additional development.
The octagonal edifice has the appearance of a lighthouse -- a beacon in the darkness. The grotesques at street level guide the eyes to the gargoyles perched high above. Pointed arches and a green tile roof give the building a European look. At night, dramatic lighting adds height and intensity to the tower, which, like gothic cathedrals, emphasize by vertical ascent the desire of humanity to reach out into the beyond.
Rolla Taylor has enhanced the dramatic effect of the building's architecture by painting it at night, and by projecting the reflection of the building's lights onto the rippled waters of the San Antonio River. Lights shining from other buildings in the city add yellow-orange highlights to the composition, heightening the mood of the painting.
Painted at the height of the Depression, it is no wonder this oil is painted on burlap, the poor man's canvas.
Clara Lee Sharp (Rolla Taylor's girlfriend)
By descent to Haynie Conn
By descent to Sharon Conn
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