Greg Miller often gets grouped with the Shepard Faireys and Banksys of the art world, though what the post-pop artist does is quite the opposite of the famed street artists.
Miller doesn't go out and tag walls (he considers himself "something of an environmentalist" he says as way of explanation in a recent interview with L.A. writer Peter Frank). Rather, he brings the outside in by recreating walls layered and aged by advertising and graffiti through sculptural paintings that are composed of airbrushed images, drips of paint, pages from mid-20th century novels and ads.
The artist, who splits time between L.A. and Austin, presents 12 new paintings that do just that in his first solo show in Texas currently up at Peveto Gallery. These works represent a new direction for the artist, a favorite in L.A. circles for his cool, slick pop art paintings of swimming beauties and pop iconography (he's even been commissioned by film directors to create parting gifts for casts, most recently for Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained").
But his paintings aren't all Hollywood surface; there's a depth to them. It's in the layered, rugged surface of his canvas -- these paintings look as if they were ripped from a brick wall that's been shaped by decades of advertisements, opportunistic street artists and natural elements. It's also in the sentimentality and nostalgia that the specific iconography Miller uses evokes -- the popsicles, baseball players, diner signs and pin-up girls that are the main subjects of his collages. These cultural reference points are pulled directly from his father's era. Miller's even recreated images of pin-up girls that his father, a World War II vet, used to have and skillfully airbrushed them to give them the look of photography. These feel not so much as paintings but as artifacts.
There's much color and pop to these busy, coded works, though one of my favorites is the most subdued. Seven features aged, yellow pages, fragments of ads, a hand of playing cards and a giant black "7" that's partially obscured by drips of white paint. Its debt to graphic artists like Rauschenberg and Schwitters is clear, though that brazen strip of white paint helps keep it fresh. The "7" also adds an alluring shroud of mystery to it all. Miller's kept some secrets for himself.
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"Greg Miller: Over Time" at Peveto Gallery, 2627 Colquitt Street, runs now through March 9. For more information, call 713-360-7098 or visit www.peveto.org.