Edward “Bear” Miller: A Profile
Edward Bear Miller is capable of seeing. Really seeing. He usually begins outdoors, “en plein air,” and what he sees, a bridge, a tree or a canal, is not limited to what others might observe.
Tangible images that strike his optic nerve are recorded with the intangibles of time and relevance. In his studio they are bombarded by ideas. Revelations. “Narrative figures” leap, soar, and swoop – an acrobatic dance in the inner space between knowing and dreaming. It’s his place where visions explore “the rich primordial world of metaphysical gravy.” This is a world of ancient sea life, “fellow primates, ancestors and the occasional song bird.”
The energy is also in the paint. It moves with the currents of the water, but also with the seemingly stationary forms of the bridge itself.
He blocks the negative spaces in first. They provide the philosophical themes and set the methodology, the way the painting will proceed. The true subject then becomes the special relationships on the surface, supported by the depth and complexity of the color harmonies. The recognizable elements of the subject matter are the last to be painted in.
Edward Bear Miller was born and raised in DC. He began painting at an early age and continued through his college years, earning a BA in history and a master’s in education. He taught for 12 years, including DC area schools, while studying with noted painters. He quit teaching in 2009 to devote his time to painting.
His canvases are a stage where his “adoration for life’s earthy elements” collides with “our lofty, freefalling historical condition.” He wants to let imagination “rip a little more” and draw you into that other world.
You can see his work this month at his Foundry Gallery show, “Staples and Gravy.” (See “At the Galleries”) www.edwardbearmiller.com
Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art
“The meaning of life is to see.” Some guy named Hui Neng said that in 700 A.D. I used that quote to open my book about Vietnam, “A Haunting Beauty.” I’m opening this year, 2014, with the same quote.
What does it mean? Not the obvious. It is not just a visual imprint of what’s in front of you. It is the personal interpretation inside your head, the mind’s eye. But even before the interpretation comes the real seeing, the actual looking at something as an ever-changing piece of ever-changing reality. That morphs into understanding. When you look at life, not just for what it is but for what it could be, seeing becomes imagination – a particularly human gift when we choose to use it.
All art is about seeing. Most of that comes through the optic nerve, but it can also enter the mind through the ears or by touch. Painting in particular allows you to get beyond facades, to wade into the guts of our world as we live it. That can be tough. Painful. You don’t really want to think of that pretty landscape as an ongoing and at times desperate fight for survival – as life feeding on death. So we distract ourselves with the pursuit of appearances by clutching expensive stuff – and, of course, status.
We just went through the annual buying frenzy. Everything was about money. But that’s America. All year long it’s about how much money you have, how much money he has. That’s how we judge a person’s smarts and wisdom. Even art is judged by “The Market.” The more it goes for, the better it is, right?
So, for the most part, we as a nation are wildly missing Hui’s admonition. The meaning of life is to see. Really see. Try it. It works. You’ll be happier.
At the Museums
National Gallery of Art
7th and Constitution NW
Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections traces the Byzantine visual arts from the 4th to the 15th centuries, from the pagan world of the Roman Empire to the opulent yet spiritual world of the Christian Byzantine Empire. Over 170 rare works bring you the exquisite splendor of the Byzantine Empire: sculptures, icons, mosaics, frescoes, manuscripts, metalwork, jewelry, glass, embroideries, and ceramics … it’s all there. March 2.
The Dying Gaul: An Ancient Roman Masterpiece from the Capitoline Museum, Rome details the history and worldwide acclaim of this marble sculpture, which has touched almost everyone since it was discovered during excavations in Rome in the 1620s. It is believed to be a Roman copy of a Greek bronze original created in the 3rd century B.C. This is a very special work of art. There have been countless other statues and paintings of dying warriors that just don’t strike you the same way. What makes it so personally affecting? Many opinions are offered of course, but you need to see it yourself. This may be your only opportunity. March 16. www.nga.gov
At the Galleries
Edward “Bear” Miller
1314 18th St. NW
Jan. 2 - Feb. 2
Reception Friday, Jan. 3
Closing Reception Saturday, Feb. 1
Edward Bear Miller (see “Artist Profile”) exhibits his recent renderings of Key Bridge and Long Railroad Bridge in his “staple realist” style in this one-man show he calls “Staples and Gravy.” He also includes a few “wavier, more far-out explorations of trees and bridges inhabited by primordial creatures.” www.foundrygallery.org
Hill Center Galleries
921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Jan. 9 - March 2
Reception Jan. 12, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
This is a must see. Sandy Barrett Hassan exhibits her very expressive “Quilts in Color.” Jacquelyn Flowers’ paintings in oil and acrylic are also about color and texture. Also, 25 artists show their work in the Capitol Hill Art League (CHAL) exhibition juried by Nicky Cymrot and Alan Braley.
“The World Political”
Evolve Urban Arts Project
The Pierce School Lofts
1375 Maryland Ave. NE
Jan. 16 - Feb. 27
Reception Thursday, Jan. 30, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
DC artist Aaron Wilder explores the connections between people and the images with which they identify, particularly geographic identity and popular culture. His mixed-media and acrylic works often include text to provoke your personal interaction. His more dominant themes include international politics, popular culture and the contradictions in the state of humanity, gay rights, gender equality, the processes of our own socialization, and “Conditionalism.” The Evolve receptions are always great.
Honfleur Gallery and The Gallery at Vivid Solutions
1241 Good Hope Rd., Anacostia
Jan. 10 - Feb. 10
Artists talk: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2:45 p.m.
Common Ground. Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, painter, and Michael B. Platt, photographer, have combined their visual languages to create a common space. The excellent resulting works show that common ground can serve as a mode of action as well as a space.
Adrift. Laila Abdul-Hadi Jadallah’s Morocco and Turkey photographs are created through in-camera multiple exposures. The series reflects her continuing consideration of what constitutes “home.”