Extracting familiar pictorial codes from the pop culture of his youth, Greg Miller – who divides his time between New York, NY, Fredericksburg, TX and LA, CA, and whose work is featured in numerous museum and private collections, with a volume of his writings, photography and paintings having been published in 2010 – plumbs his own psychological depths only to discover what makes him love work and life.
What historical art figure would you like to have lunch with and why? There are so many, but perhaps top of the list would be Kurt Schwitters & Marcel Duchamp. Both had a huge impact on me early on. They greatly expanded the vocabulary of artistic expression and the notion of what art is and can be. I’d love to hear their thoughts on life and painting today – to see whether they feel we’ve lived up to, or exceeded their expectations.
What did you purchase with the proceeds from your first sale? That first sale was a thrill and gave me much appreciated reinforcement to continue in this direction, so I decided to reinvest it in more painting supplies & canvases and making more art. In addition to art, I had been on the freestyle skiing circuit after college and having some success. Re-investing in my art career after that first sale was a real turning point – my priorities were definitely shifting away from skiing and towards doubling down on my art.
What words or phrases do you overuse? Fuck me running! Don’t know why, but it’s always coming out.
How do you know when a work is finished? In one sense, I still don’t know. In another, no painting ever feels really finished to me – each painting feels like part of a greater, unified whole, where one painting flows into another, and none feel like they really “end” or are “finished.” In fact, on the back of every painting I write, “It’s all one painting!”
When and where were you happiest? I’m the happiest in my studio, living in the moment, with my family and friends. I’ve had studios in many different locations over the course of my career – Laguna Beach, downtown LA, Venice, Austin, Springs, NY and now back in Fredericksburg, TX – all felt like I was home, doing what I loved and where I should be.
What is your most treasured possession? I don’t really have a treasured possession, in the sense of an object one might own, but in terms of what I cherish most, that would be the time to enjoy health, happiness, my wife and friends and perhaps the ever elusive Royal Flush!
Where is your ideal escape destination? I grew up outside of Sacramento and spent a lot of time in Lake Tahoe. Getting out onto the ocean or into the mountains nourishes my soul. In fact, my wife, Barbara & I are heading to Tahoe for 2 weeks in several days.
What’s the worst survival job you’ve ever had? Teaching art as a professor at an art college. Which is not to say it was awful, but it was not my calling and felt like an impediment to pursuing that which was my calling – which was to devote myself full-time to making art.
What TV series from your youth best describes your approach to life? Wanted Dead or Alive (with Steve McQueen)!
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would like to slow down so I could take more of everything in. I’m working more and better than I ever have, but I have this feeling of just wanting to slow the movie of life down so I can appreciate it all as much as possible.
What is your most treasured memory? Being with my wife, family and friends. Professionally, I would say it was my first solo show in Venice with William Turner, 32 years ago. As we were hanging the show, Robert Rauschenberg stopped in, was very complimentary about my work & hung out with us for an hour and a half! It was the beginning of the recession, we only had the gallery for a month, but it felt like a good sign & the show sold out. That felt like the real beginning for me!
What makes you smile? Someone once asked Billy Al Bengston how he expected to make a living as an artist. He responded that “making a living isn’t the point.” I totally agree with that. I’ve been able to follow my passion for art AND make a living. I feel very lucky and it makes me smile.
What makes you cry? Losing a loved one.
What is your go-to drink when you toast to a sale? A shot or two of Anejo Don Julio tequila. Perhaps a third, even – for the new guy!
After an all-nighter, what’s your breakfast of champions? Can’t talk about it.
Who inspires you? Winston Churchill, for his eloquence, inspiration and steadfastness in the face of overwhelming odds in the fight for freedom over fascism. I’ve been thinking about him a lot these days in contrast to so many of today’s supposed GOP leaders.
What’s your best quality? My hair! And that I loathe superficiality.
What’s your biggest flaw? Being too naive.
What is your current state of mind? Personally, I couldn’t be more grateful, happy and fulfilled. As a citizen of our country and our planet, I couldn’t be more concerned. It feels like an “all hands on deck” moment!
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being able to continue being an artist.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be? Clint Eastwood.
Greg Miller‘s exhibition, Once Upon A Time, is at William Turner Gallery through August 12, 2023.
Cover image: the artist in his studio; all photos courtesy of the artist and William Turner Gallery.