Eureka artist Zeek Taylor sees stories hit the big time in new anthology

Eureka artist Zeek Taylor sees stories hit the big time in new anthology

It all started with an assignment for a decorator pillow company that used Zeek Taylor’s art images for pillow tops.

“The pillow with the (clothed) chimp image became a big seller nationwide,” the Eureka Springs artist remembers. “That helped prompt me to continue with the theme, but the main reason was that painting the anthropomorphic chimps was so much fun. With each piece, I created a one or two-sentence story about the chimp in the painting. I found the chimps to be endearing, and I was not surprised when others did too.”

Over the years, Taylor continued to tell the stories of his chimp friends, and eventually his first book, “Chimps Having Fun,” was released in 2014.

“I had done many watercolor paintings of clothed chimps in the years prior to its release, and because the collection was cohesive, I thought the material was perfect for an art book,” h says. “While the chimp book was well received, I still did not consider myself to be an author. I thought I would have one book to my name and that was it.”

But Taylor — and serendipitous timing — changed that trajectory.

“Not too long after the chimp book was released, I received the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement. Because I received that award, I was asked to be a guest on the NPR ‘Tales from the South’ program. After I had accepted the invitation, I learned that I was required to write and read a true short story during the show,” Taylor explains. “I did — and it too was well received, and I enjoyed the writing process.

“When Facebook Throwback Thursday stories came along, I thought that was the perfect reason to continue writing,” he goes on. “I soon built up a following for the stories and received requests to write a book. Eventually, I had a large collection of stories, and I thought, ‘Hey, I think I may have written a book!’

“All of the stories in my ‘Delta’ books are autobiographical and start with my earliest memories as a child and chronicle my life experiences all the way up to the present,” Taylor explains. “I do smile now fondly when reading some of the ones about my childhood. Readers most often asked me about the stories I wrote about picking cotton, which I did from the age of 5 until I graduated from high school. Some of my favorites are about family and friends.

“When compiled into one volume, those autobiographical TBT stories became ‘Out of the Delta,’ published in 2016. Eventually, I had even more stories and enough to publish the next one, ‘Out of the Delta II,’ in 2020,” he continues. “After writing the books, having them distributed worldwide, and even after having a suite dedicated to me at the Writers Colony in Eureka Springs, I still consider myself to be an ‘accidental author.’”

That may have changed now. Taylor’s two “Out of the Delta” books have been collected into one, published in hardcover by Sandy Springs Press and available through Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other retail outlets.

“This past summer I was interviewed by CNN for a story about Eureka Springs, and that story was seen nationwide,” Taylor explains. “A man who had represented my art 40 years ago saw the article, looked me up and bought my books. Turns out that he now is the owner of a national publishing company based in Atlanta, and after reading my books offered to publish them in one volume as an anthology. … He hired an editor in Los Angeles who had the task of combining the two books into one. He also employed a cover designer and used a service that made a video trailer to be used for promoting the book. My job was to look over everything and approve or even suggest changes. The process took a while with a lot of back and forth between Atlanta, Los Angeles and Arkansas. It was worth it. I really liked what the publishing company has done with my work.

“Being an author was never on my bucket list, and I never dreamed I would say that my book is available through Barnes & Noble. I must say it is thrilling,” he admits. “Writing has been equally as satisfying as my longtime career of creating visual art. I hope that both my books and my paintings bring pleasure to readers and to viewers. It has been fulfilling for me to be able to create both art forms. Thanks again to my parents who early on told me, ‘You can do it.’”



‘Out of the Delta:

The Anthology’

By Zeek Taylor

Published by Sandy Springs Press in October 2022.

288 pages

$29.99 in hardcover

Available from Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other book outlets.

Categories: Family Friendly