The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will open a new exhibition, Richard Kidwell Miller: A Retrospective, on Friday, Sept. 17, 2004, in the Art Gallery of the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. The free exhibition is open to the public and will remain on display through November 7.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the artist will present a talk, “Homecoming: The Story of a West Virginia Artist,” on Friday, October 1, at 7 p.m. at the Cultural Center. The event is a fund-raiser for the West Virginia Mansion Preservation Foundation Inc. Prior to the lecture, visitors may view the exhibit, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets to the lecture and a dinner buffet at the Governor’s Mansion are $50. Admission to the lecture only is $20.
Miller, a native of Fairmont, began painting at the age of six. During his first few years of school he won several prizes for his work and painted murals throughout the building. He took evening classes at a community art center when it opened and later was allowed to leave school early to take classes there in the afternoon. At the age of 10, one of his paintings, Still Life, was selected for an exhibition of juvenile art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In 1943, Miller’s family moved to Washington, D.C., and he soon became the youngest artist ever granted permission to copy Old Master paintings in the National Gallery of Art. During the next two years, he won scholarships to study art in Washington and Provincetown, Mass. At the age of 17, Miller came home to Fairmont to attend the opening of his first one-man show at Fairmont State College.
Miller received the Gerturde Vanderbilt Whitney scholarship which provided funds for five years of college study. He spent one year at the Pennsylvania Academy for the Fine Arts and the next four years at American University, where he graduated in 1953. He later earned a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Europe and another Whitney scholarship to pursue a master’s degree at Columbia.
In 1960, Miller had a solo exhibition at New York’s Duveen Graham Gallery. The following year, he was invited to exhibit at the famous Carnegie International where his huge abstraction, Strata, was selected as one of the top 21 paintings out of 300 entries. While most of his work is abstract in nature, in the late 1980s, he returned to representational art when he began to think his abstract work was becoming too predictable. In the 90s, he returned to abstraction after becoming influenced by African and Native American art forms. At 73, Miller continues to paint on a daily basis.
In addition to his painting, Miller has enjoyed two other professions. He has taught art at the Kansas City Art Institute in Mo., the Scarsdale Studio School, Westchester Community College and the Jewish Community College of Mid-Westchester, all in New York. He also spent 20 years acting, appearing in the long-running Broadway production of Oliver as well as countless other shows all across the country, and he has said he found acting became inspirational and interwoven with his love of painting.
For more information about the exhibition, Richard Kidwell Miller: A Retrospective, contact Stephanie Lilly, exhibits coordinator for the Division at (304) 558-0220, ext. 128. To purchase tickets to the lecture and dinner or lecture only, contact Sam Ratliff at the same number, ext. 124.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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