It is Fathers’ Day here in Australia today and I am featuring a painting by Edward “Bear” Miller. Miller was born and raised in the District of Columbia, and started painting in oils in high school. After graduating from Reed College and teaching history for more than ten years on the West Coast and in South America, he has returned to his home in Washington, where the forms and tones of the East Coast have proved to be a source of fascination for him more than ever. Robert Henri, Lucian Freud, and the Bay Area figurative painters inform his work, but he is consumed by a 21st-century admiration for our devastated natural world. Bridges, ships, and human forms in nature serve as motifs for contemplating humanity’s notions of liberation and progress in light of the biosphere’s diminishing robustness. The tragic beauty of oilrigs, mining operations, and commercial fisheries are subjects the artist plans to explore in 2011.
The painting above is an intimate yet strong portrait of a man the artist knows well and loves. Maribel, the artist’s father, has a strong, lined face with limpid blue eyes that look at the viewer with intensity. As the artist notes he and his father resemble each other a lot and it’s interesting to see the artist projecting himself in this portrait, crystal gazing into the future and seeing himself as he will be in several years time. All of us, sons see our father as a role model, as a paradigm of existence, as an exemplary life, which we would wish to aspire to. The artist has communicated this admiration, affection, love and respect for his father in this candid portrait. It is best perhaps to use the artist’s own words to describe his feelings and thoughts about this portrait and about his father:
“A year ago, my father, Maribel, and I went to India. It was Maribel’s and my second time in India, but our first time in the north: Varanasi, Bodhgaya, Rajasthan, and Agra. My father is an avid adventurer, hiker, tennis player, liberal, lover of paintings and music... interests we have shared and developed together over my lifetime. It was an honor and joy when he chose to come with us to India, because Maribel and I generally travel in dirtbag style and Dad said he trusted our judgement on how to move and where to stay. Pretty cool coming from a federal judge. Dad and I made a side venture to Ranakpur (near Udaipur) to see an ancient Jain temple, and I snapped a photo of him at a moment when he was immersed in his thoughts and impressions and not conscious of being photographed. Here he is in the midst of communicating something to me, his son. It’s worth mentioning that we look a lot alike.
This painting is about mortal recognition of the larger and alternative circumstances of existence. My father serves as the subject, but it is in many regards a self-portrait. India is such an eye-opening place on so many levels. One’s consciousness of self, destitution, quiet bliss, religious pandemonium, the diversity of humanity, and our connection to the natural world is heightened and tested.” Happy Fathers’ Day to all fathers!
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.