Meet Taylor Reinhold, a talented, enterprising muralist and graphic artist who has galvanized a community of artists from all over the world via numerous street art-based ventures. He’s also the son of Ann Morhauser who founded the renowned glass studio, Annieglass. He jokes that he grew up watching glass break his whole life, but was also steeped in the skate and surf culture of Santa Cruz. In his twenties, he began selling graphic tees at local music festivals, which led to a screenprinting business and an artists collective dubbed the Made Fresh Crew. Reinhold recently moved his screenprinting shop, Natural Motion, into a 6,000-square-foot facility, which includes an airy gallery and retail space displaying street art-inspired works and apparel. We recently caught up with Reinhold to chat street art’s recent resurgence, community involvement, and the upcoming Open Studios event.
You’re the child of a prominent Santa Cruz artist whose pieces are on permanent display at the Smithsonian. What influence did that have on you as a child?
I grew up on an organic Meyer lemon and avocado farm with my dad – a farmer and surfer – and my mom, an artist. There was never any pressure to be a doctor or lawyer!
What inspires you and your art?
Both of my parents are from New Jersey, and as a kid, I would get inspired by the graffiti I’d see riding trains between Philly, Jersey, and New York. I also get inspiration from skateboarding, music, culture, and travel. I get excited to see new cities and people, and explore abandoned and forgotten places.
Has street art gained a wider recognition and acceptance?
Although it started in New York, street art has largely been stigmatized in the States as vandalism. It’s flipped the traditional art world on its head, changing the way people interact with art, bringing the gallery experience to the streets. Now, it’s become more mainstream. You see it reflected in Silicon Valley where everyone wants to have cool, bright art in their offices. I’ve been commissioned to do artworks at companies such as Comcast and LinkedIn.
Where else can we find your murals?
Locally, you’ll see my work at the Aqua Breeze Inn across from the Boardwalk, Cafe Gratitude downtown, the Watsonville courthouse, and the local business Plantronics. I also have murals all over South America, Southeast Asia, and Egypt.
Tell us about the Fresh Walls mural project that you helped launch.
We partner with agencies and nonprofits such as the Santa Cruz Arts Council, Clean Oceans International, and local public schools to create community-based murals focused on sustainability. We are currently fundraising for one of the largest murals in Santa Cruz County, a public 500-foot ocean-themed mural at Bay View Elementary that promotes a plastic-free marine sanctuary.
How would you describe the Santa Cruz art scene and the importance of events such as First Fridays and Open Studios?
Santa Cruz is one of the most creative places on the planet, full of colorful people and art lovers. The art scene is thriving here but we need more affordable, creative spaces for artists. With our new gallery, we’ll exhibit new and upcoming artists that don’t have regular access to exhibition space. We’ll feature First Friday art shows every other month that we refer to as Fresh Fridays. We’ll also participate in Open Studios, which has connected me to so many amazing local artists. I am so glad my mom dragged me to numerous studios at a young age and showed me that it is possible to survive as an artist.
You don’t seem content to hide away in a studio. What compels your community involvement?
I started my career working for non-profits and after-school programs teaching mural classes. I was inspired by my students and the lack of funding for art in public schools. I wanted to give back and create community-based mural projects that bring life into the streets and schools. The beauty of art, especially large-scale pieces such as murals, is that people from the community come right up to you and want to interact. It’s how I’ve been able to connect with people around the world. Getting more color on the walls and bringing more people together: that’s what I’m here for.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)