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R. A. MILLER (1912-2006)


Reuben Aaron Miller was born in the Rabbittown community north of Gainesville GA on July 22, 1912.

He farmed, worked in the cotton mills, and preached for the Free Will Baptist Church. His eyes began to fail and R A turned to art to express himself. He started making "whirligigs" out of any materials he could find.

By the mid-1980s Miller's yard was a spectacle—a hilltop field of hundreds of spinning windmills. His animated environment attracted frequent visitors, including Athens rock group R.E.M., who in 1984, with painter and filmmaker James Herbert, filmed a twenty-minute video, Left of Reckoning, on Miller's hilltop.
After folk-art dealers and collectors began to purchase Miller's inexpensive whirligigs in large quantities, the artist started to make and sell cutout figures independent of the whirligigs.

Eventually, he became one of the state's premiere self-taught artists. famous around the world. His sincere and artful cutouts, whirligigs, and drawings feature animals and human figures and usually have a religious message.

 

Miller's most frequent image is a figure emblazoned with the words "Blow Oskar," a reference to the artist's cousin, who would blow his car horn while driving past Miller's property. Cutout shapes of churches, American flags, and crosses decorated with birds and angels also figure heavily in Miller's work.

The best of Miller's tin cutouts are gracefully abstracted and animated in gesture. His animal images range from bluebirds, chickens, pigs, and snakes to a variety of dinosaur types, inspired by nature programs on television. Human figures include red devils, angels, such American cultural icons as Uncle Sam and Elvis, and less well-defined characters that sport hats, cigars, or red claws.

In addition to whirligigs and cutouts, Miller produced paintings and drawings in enamel or marker on masonite. These works include similar human figures, animals, and dinosaurs, which share space with such short inspirational messages as "Lord Love You" and are surrounded by simple decorative borders.
Miller's work has been included in such exhibitions as Outside the Mainstream: Folk Art in Our Time at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (1988) and Passionate Visions of the American South at the New Orleans Museum of Art in Louisiana (October 1993-January 1994). Further exhibitions, the inclusion of his work in museums' permanent collections, and articles in such international publications as Raw Vision have contributed to Miller's status as an elder statesman among Georgia's self-taught artists.
In 2004 Miller lost his sight to an eye infection and moved to a nursing home in Commerce, where he died in March 2006. The month before his death, an exhibition of his work entitled R. A. Miller: A Tribute opened at the Brenau University Galleries.

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EWG represents some very nice R. A. Miller pieces:

"Lord Love You Snake"

13" X 50"

Acrylic paint on salvaged tin   $550.

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"Strange Animals"

17.5" x 17.5"

Acrylic on wood panel     $450.

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