Greg Miller’s Taste Better (54″ x 72″, 2008) oil, paper, resin on panel

Greg Miller Shows at William Turner

by Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Faculty and graduate students at San Jose State’s School of Art and Design in the early 80’s remember Greg Miller as a big darling, a good looking talented artist with a great, patient personality. He was in the SJSU Graduate MFA Program and one of the principles in the establishment of Word Works. Founded by Jessica Jacobs around the use of actual words and text in painting, Word Works was San Jose’s second gallery to address Postmodern issues at time when there was no Museum of Art and the only other alternative was landscape watercolor. Word Works began to show cutting edge art and embraced performance and installation, bringing in big name artists from outside the nascent art scene in San Jose. Works Gallery and the Institute of Contemporary Art were later offshoots of Word Works.

After graduation Miller ended up in Southern California, first as a graphic designer for the Newport Harbor Art Museum and then teaching at Laguna College of Art and Design of Claremont Graduate School, in Painting and Sculpture. Soon he was the Chair of the Department of Visual Communications where he brought the graphic design program into the digital age.

Miller’s painting seems to reflect a little bit of all the experiences mentioned above. There are references to the history of Los Angeles as the epitome of California fun in the sun: a Pop celebration of palm trees, cocktail lounges and swimming pools, the movies, beautiful women and a carefree lifestyle. But there is critique as well: advertising as seductive superficiality, the Motels, the transience, and the thin veneer that peels away with time.


Greg Miller’s Hollywood, 2009

Miller has developed successful short film projects such as “The Kidnapping” and “Darth Days” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. His third film installation “Go Fish” previewed at the DIVA Art Fair in Miami Art Basel. Miller’s art, paintings, and films have generated a following in the L.A. area. His work is featured in the Charles Saatchi Collection, the Frederick R. Weisman Collection and the corporate collections of Playboy, AmFAR, and Interscope Records. His work can also be seen in the permanent collections of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Riverside Art Museum, and, of course, our very own San Jose Museum of Art.


Greg Miller’s 2009, Only 5 Cents, oil, paper, resin on panel

His new exhibition at the William Turner Gallery, Signs of the Nearly Actual, continues the favorite themes in his painting. The nostalgic fashions and the design-style of signage, all depicted as on weathered and peeling surfaces, reveal that time passes but much of the fundamentals remain the same. They have an archeological appeal that is as universal as a drive along Route 66 or the Sistine Chapel ceiling before restoration. In some works we see new faces with more contemporary make-up, new fashions and some new contexts, as well. They are still entertaining and reveal more of what we really love (and love to hate) in loose liberal California. And, like the eternally feminine smile of the Mona Lisa, the come-hither flirtations have not lost their charm.


Miller’s Deep End, 2009

Barry Bamsey’s recent article in Artworks/Spring 09 details Miller’s life as a youthful athlete and entrepreneur, his convoluted journey through college as a student and a teacher, and his studio work with paint, collage and resin in Venice. He offers insight into his relationship with women and California. It’s a colorful, often comical, story that has the authentic ring of Greg Miller’s voice in the narrative.

Upcoming exhibitions:

May 7-31, 2009 Caldwell Snyder Gallery (341 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94108

June 27-Aug 15, 2009 William Turner Gallery (2525 Michigan Ave. #E-1, Santa Monica, CA 90401)

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