Kansas City artist Grant Miller is part of a three-artist art show at the Byron C. Cohen Gallery for Contemporary Art. The show remains up through Aug. 14. His fellow artists are Liu Hong and Mary Ann Strandell.
Eight distinct pieces hang as part of the show. They are mixed-media works that depict layered architectural interiors and structures, mixed with Salvador Dali’s surrealist view of time and a little of Wassily Kandinsky during his time right before his Bauhaus period. Needless to say, the works are colorful with a mix of seemingly inflexible walls and corners with the sort of dripping colors one would associate with Dali. It’s a mixed bag for Miller.
In his artist statement, Miller writes, “The process of constructing the paintings mirrors the construction of history, and furthermore the natural process of editing and gathering information.” Miller starts with architectural interiors, symbols, and marks. Once these marks are laid, he continues to react to the previous information. For every action there is a reaction. Often some of the earliest information is completely covered, and the viewer is left with a painting that has been continually built upon the previous action or mark thus mirroring the construction of history. Some of the works have between eight to 18 layers of imagery.
Miller received his degree in printmaking and drawing from Washington University in St. Louis. He also has some undergraduate hours from the Kansas City Art Institute. “I am happy to be in Kansas City. There is such an active grassroots art movement here. It’s a very do-it-yourself scene. Groups like the Charlotte Street Foundation aid living artists in making a living through their art. It’s not a trickle down effect. St. Louis always seemed very top down, but here there is a concern for the well being of artists.” Miller even works with other emerging artists through his Creative Inc., which helps them explore treating art as business and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit.
In his studio, Miller often listens to podcasts about the history of painting and other topics. One significant set of podcasts examined the life of modern artist Francis Bacon. “As an artist, I am looking to create that contemporary dialogue and in that conversation, I am showing the bombardment and saturation of our modern world. I am trying to capture what those collections of memories might look like. I wanted to try to make sense of the information, the notion of time, construction and the elements that cause order. The paintings have a timeline that includes a series of events and personal experiences. Of course, those can change daily — thus the layers. The earliest images and influences are there, but then so are the events, the encapsulated history that I show through abstractions.”
Miller hopes that viewers will walk away with their own understanding, but he hopes they may return to the images again. “You can find more parallels through the layers of accumulated information. These are works that continue to give to the viewer and allow for even more introspection. With eight pieces here, viewers can see the breadth of the work.”
Miller plans to complete some more paintings for coming shows in England. He will have pieces at Leeds University and Imperial College. Companies such as JE Dunn and Progressive Auto have purchased his work. There are works in the Black & White Gallery in New York too. In the fall, he will teach drawing and printmaking at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“Any artist who says they are a success is not growing. I want to keep at it and find new venues and new experiences. I want to continue to put myself in situations where I will learn and develop,” he says.
Byron C. Cohen Gallery for Contemporary Art
Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Runs through Aug. 14