The Art of Janvier Miller
There's something about the art of Janvier Miller
Walk up to one of her paintings in a gallery on a gloomy day and pay attention
to how your mood subtly elevates. It's not a matter of clever manipulation by an
artist toying with our emotions. It has much more to do with her ability to infuse
her subjects with a sense of her own tranquility and joy. It's very hard not to intuit
those sensibilities in her work.
The joy is there in the way she handles color and paint. She can imbue her
pictures with a kind of breezy nonchalance that captivates and is distinctly upbeat.
At the opposite end of her spectrum(with acrylic) seems to be a tone of oriental
elegance, of unruffled calm.
Her paintings often have an all-over quality, with a jumble of ideas and objects
covering the surface as if situated by an I Ching chance operation or, more likely, an
act of nature. But she sidesteps what could easily become a slide into chaos by
anchoring the work with a series of carefully placed everyday objects or creatures.
Or, as in her show at the Center for Spiritual Care, she may focus on a large
image that covers almost the entirety of the canvas.
For example, in the very successful Pond-Fan our attention is drawn to the
placid, light-dappled fish pond. It is only on closer inspection that we realize the
image is not simply a pond but a rendering of a pond emblazoned on another object:
a painting of a painting.
At a certain point in her career, Miller worked almost exclusively in silk screens.
She wanted her art to be affordable and available to viewers from all walks, and
this reproducible medium allowed for that. Yet the attention she paid to nuance and
the refinement of these pieces differs not in the least from the way she approaches
her more ambitious acrylics.
In the silk screens shown here, note the finesse with which she blends colors, one
shading into the next with almost indiscernible grace. It is this kind of care,
balanced by her willingness to throw caution to the winds, that distinguishes her work.
Her mastery of ceramics also deserves mention. She produces pots that have a
tactile integrity. These she finishes with images as notable for their simplicity as their
wit and sophistication. Their unconsciously Japanese flavor once encouraged an
admirer to muse that in a former life Miller surely was the abbess of a Zen convent.
Omedito gozaimasu, Miller-san.