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Maggie Taylor Shows Us the Magic of Photoshop at Catherine Couturier Gallery

Maggie Taylor's brand of photomontage is a fascinating mix of old and new forms of photography that results in even more fascinating images.

Since 1996, the Florida artist has been working with Photoshop, taking advantage of its imaging magic to create pictures that are truly surreal, strange and, yes, magical.

She starts with 19th century tin-types, photographs, and other images she's acquired from flea markets, antique stores, eBay or other artists. She scans and then manipulates them in Photoshop, colorizing and layering the originals with her own photographs and other images she's come across. In what takes only seconds to describe, Taylor will spend weeks, often months manipulating a single piece, adding upwards of 60 layers or more.

Thirty of these resulting images are on display at Catherine Couturier Gallery, timed to the publication of a new book of Taylor's works titled No Ordinary Days.

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Indeed, these pieces are anything but ordinary. Taylor's work is often described using the word "dreamscapes," but it's difficult to tell whether it's born of dreams or nightmares. In her alternate, unsettling realities, bees can magically coordinate to form a dress, a swimmer walks a cloud, a child tears her head in two as if it's a piece of paper, pigs fly, animals, flowers and leaves explode out of the back of a man's head, and landscapes are paradoxically lit like in Magritte's Empire of Light, the sky light as day while the land is in the shadows of darkness.

They're at turns delightful, others bizarre, but they're oddly compelling in their strangeness. They seem like illustrations to fairy tales or children's stories, full of whimsy, beauty and originality. And like any good tale, they leave you questioning your own sense of what's possible.

"Maggie Taylor: No Ordinary Days" at Catherine Couturier Gallery, 2635 Colquitt Street, runs now through February 9. For more information, call 713-524-5070 or visit http://www.catherinecouturier.com.

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