Friday, May 14, 2010


March 07, 2005

This Mark Miller. Jon Haddock asked that I contribute to this blog. I am going to do the opposite of Jon in my entries. He writes intelligent things that enlarge everyone's world and comment on things that people can relate to. Jon taught me to do that in my work a little more. Unfortunately it has taken all I have to do that with my paintings. So I’ll take the easy way out and just write this as a diary, that should alienate the last few people who make it this far.

For about five years I have been doing these paintings from snapshots that I steal from Costco. I buy other people's photos and then paint them. I supplement these with photos other people steal for me. I haven’t gotten much response to my work over my career so I felt pretty anonymous and safe doing this. I thought I could do anything and no one would notice.

Recently I got a call from a TV reporter in Florida. He wanted to interview me about my work. I had a show opening in Florida that week so I thought it was about that. I was pretty excited. I thought someone finally noticed, but I was also pretty scared about the whole Costco thing. I tried to think how to make myself unrecognizable to my friends at the local Costco. They all know me since I go there all the time. I tossed and turned all night. Then I got an idea: I'll shave my head and wear glasses. I was ready to go.

The next morning I arrived at the local NBC station. It was really weird. They just have this big ugly floor where everyone is mashed together at desks in cubicles trying to make the news. Reporters were standing before cameras reading lines without any “studio” except a tacky picture of the “newsroom” behind them. They had no sound insulation or anything. I was led to a messy corner with my own tacky picture behind me and a mass of chaotic keyboards and wires in front of me. Several news makers came over and asked if this was the “Picasso” that they had heard about. I think the way it was presented to them was there was supposed to be some kind of racy stolen photo porn painting thing happening. As soon as I showed them my paintings they stopped talking mid-sentence and walked away. One guy had to stay, he was the stoner technician. He told me I had to sit real still so my head stayed within these magic marker lines drawn on a monitor. The image of myself with cartoon lines holding my head was the only thing I had to stare at. I had to balance my paintings on the mass of tangled electronics in front of me trying not to push any flashing buttons. I was pretty scared and this was damn uncomfortable. I had a really loud earpiece stuck in my ear while the technician dialed all sorts of wrong numbers and made deafening screeching noises. Finally he got my guy in Florida and the transmission was going. The reporter in Florida asked if I could stand up and they could get a wide shot so they could see the paintings he asked me to bring in. No that was not possible, I had to sit there and keep my head in those lines. The reporter started to ask me something about how I steal the photos. I gave him a long winded technical answer making it clear that Costco no longer lets this happen. They scan everything and know everything you buy. He couldn’t even hear my answer, he just had to ask the technician if I was done answering. He more or less asked me the same question over and over again till I realized he didn’t care anything about the paintings. Finally he heard my answer and got all aggressive. He said his colleagues successfully bought his pictures last week to test the security and had no problem. I explained again that there was now a record of this transaction and he could find out who bought his pictures if he wanted. At this point he got really frustrated and started attacking me for “borrowing people’s pictures” ( I don’t keep the photos but return them to the bin). I was getting really nervous now. I had some sympathy for Bush in the debates. All I could see was my own face staring back at me in the monitor. I started twitching and kind of weaving outside my cartoon lines. Watching myself made me even more nervous. The more he attacked the more I twitched. Then he asked how much I made off these paintings from stolen pictures. I said, “I don’t make anything. I lose money painting them,” then really embarrassingly, “I am just trying to beautify the world one roll at a time.” The reporter asked, “How do you think the people in the photos would feel about this”. I mumbled, “Well everyone I have asked said they would be honored to have me work for six months off their photos.” Which of course was a lie, some people are horrified. After that he said, “well hold your paintings up and say anything you want about them.” I tried to fit them in the monitor by leaning as far back as I could in the chair and saying something about Then it was over.

After all this I was very scared to show up at Costco. I even drove back home and got a hat to put on so no one would associate that bald criminal with me. I pulled the cap on as low as I could and went in. When I got my usual mocha the food manager said, “Hey Mark I see you shaved your head.”

Statement and CV

During the last decade, I have used snapshots as a starting point for my work.  Instead of painting solely from found photos, I have also bought anonymous (unsuspecting) customers' snapshots, made them into paintings, and then returned the photos of my paintings to the original owner.  Many of my shows are titled in reference to this--such as "Second Set Free".  My goal is to force the unsuspecting viewer into re-examining the casual photograph.

Painting can have the aura of the carefully examined handmade object, designed to call attention to the smallest detail of the subject matter. This aura can become threatening when applied to private images not meant for public perusal. I strive to create that shock of invasion, when the viewer becomes acutely aware of the trans-formative elements that turn photo to paint.  The literal details frozen into a snapshot are replaced with formal qualities thrusting composition, surface, material, and color into the public eye.  I never change the composition of the photo or alter its subject matter, but I enhance the abstract qualities of the image in an attempt to make it beautiful.  If successful, the unconscious appreciation of that beauty will surface, while the mind is charged by the dissection of before and after.

In this way, I parallel the role of early proponents of Modernism such as Alfred Barr, who believed it was their job to expose mass audiences to formal paintings and deny their focus on literal subject matter.  While I subscribe to the underlying tenets of the modernists, I look for more covert means to express them-- a subversion from below rather than an imposed enlightenment from above.  I start with the most throwaway of images--the quick and easy photo snapshot--and through the use of visceral materials and time give them a new meaning.

1991 University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA; MFA, Painting Major, Video Minor
1989 University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA; MA
1986 University of California, Santa Cruz; 5th Year Certificate in Painting
1985 University of California, Santa Cruz; BA, Psychology and Art
2006 Seattle Arts Commission, Public Art Purchase Award
2001 “Neddy Fellowship in Painting”, Behnke Foundation.
2000 Jurors Award, “2000 Pacific Northwest Annual”, Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA
1995 "Gap Grant", Artist Trust, Seattle, WA
1993 Fellowship, The MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire 
1992 King County Arts Commission Gallery Program, solo show and honorarium
1992Fellowship, The MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire 
1991 Commission, Seattle Artists Program, Seattle Arts Commission, Seattle, WA
1990 Fellowship, Lynch-Peltzer Fellowship, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 
2008 “Abandoned and Thieves”, Howard House, Seattle, WA
2007 “View-point”. L2kontemporary, Los Angeles, CA
2006 “Duplicates”, Andrew Edlin Gallery, NY, NY
2005 “Evicted”, Howard House, Seattle, WA
2004 “Zion”, Howard House, Seattle, WA
2003 “Second Set Free”, Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, Oregon 
2003“Moon over Maui”, Howard House, Seattle, WA 
2001 Howard House, “24 Exp”, Seattle, WA 
2001Howard House, Seattle, WA 
2001Howard House, Seattle, WA 
2000 Pulliam Deffenbaugh, Portland, OR
1999 Howard House, Seattle, WA
1998 Howard House, Seattle, WA
1998Linda Cannon Gallery, Seattle, WA
1998Pulliam Deffenbaugh, Portland, OR
1997 Linda Cannon Gallery, Seattle, Washington
1996 Linda Cannon Gallery, Seattle, WA
1995 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
1995Linda Cannon Gallery, Seattle, WA
1994 Pulliam Deffenbaugh Gallery, Portland, OR
1994Laverne Kraus Gallery, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
1994Workplace Gallery, Portland, OR
1993 King County Arts Commission Gallery, Seattle, WA
1993Cliff Michel Gallery, Seattle, WA
1992 AG 47 Gallery, Seattle, WA
1990 Eve Drewelowe Gallery, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
1984 Charles E. Merrill Gallery, University of California at Santa Cruz
2010 “Close Reading: The Two Character Play”, Triple Candie, New York, NY
2010 “Honoring 15 Years of Neddy Artist Fellows”, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA
2009 “A Concise History of Northwest Art”, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA
2009“Parallel Lines”, Wing Luke Museum, Seattle WA
2007 “8th Northwest Biennial, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA, (catalogue) 
2005 “A Decade of Excellence, Celebrating the Neddy Artist Fellowship”. Tacoma Art Museum,Tacoma, WA, (catalogue)
2004 “Painting at Plane Space”, New York, NY
2003 “YSA”, Howard House, Seattle WA
2003“The Sentimental Favorite: Abstract Painting”, Triple Candie, New York, NY
2003“Building Tradition”, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma WA (catalogue)
2002 Seattle Collects 2002, City Space—Bank of American Tower, Seattle, WA
2002“Lava 2002”, Noodleworks, Seattle, WA (catalogue compiled by Rhonda Howard)
2001 “Contours, Extended Painting in the Northwest”, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, B.C.
curated by Lisa Baldissera, Matthew Kangas (catalogue)
2001 “Neddy Fellowship Exhibition”, Bank of America Gallery, Seattle WA
2000 “2000 Pacific Northwest Annual”, Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA
2000“Drawn From...”, Commencement Art Gallery, Tacoma, WA
1999 Pulliam Deffenbaugh, Portland, OR
1999 “1999 Pacific Northwest Annual”, Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA 
1998 “Looking to Nature”, Archer Gallery, Clark College, Vancouver, WA
1997 “The 14th Biennial Invitational Exhibition”, Dinnerware Gallery, Tucson, Arizona
1997 “Art Works for Aids”, Seattle Center Art Pavilion, Seattle, WA
1997 “Asian Pacific Islanders Invitational”, University of Washington at Tacoma 
1996 "Small Works", 80 Washington Square East Galleries, New York University, New York City, NY, juried by Edward Thorp
1996 "1996 Pacific Northwest Annual", Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA 
1996 "Repetition Compulsion Exhibition", 8th Floor Gallery, 573 Broadway, New York, NY
1996 "Multi-Ethnic Contemporary Artists", North Seattle Community College, Seattle, WA
1996 "Pratt Auction Preview 1996", Seafirst Gallery, Seattle, WA
1995 "Follie a Deux", Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle WA
1995 "Pratt Instructors Show", Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle WA
1995 "Noted Japanese-American Artists", Auburn City Hall, Auburn, WA 
1995 "Poncho Invitational 1995 Fine Art", Seafirst Gallery, Seattle, WA
1994 "Kirkland Annual Juried Show", Kirkland Art Center, Kirkland, WA
1994 "Inaugural Show", Linda Cannon Gallery, Seattle, WA
1994 "Retrospective Group Show" (catalogue), AG 47 Gallery, Seattle, WA
1994 "Abstract Thinking" (catalogue), Metropolis Gallery, Seattle, WA
1994 "Artists at Workplace", The Workplace Gallery, Portland, OR
1994 "Faculty Show", Laverne Kraus Gallery, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
1993 "A Room of One's Own", Bumbershoot Arts Festival, Seattle, WA
1993 "Pratt Instructors Show", Foster/White Gallery, Kirkland, WA
1993 “Group Show”, Cliff Michel Gallery, Seattle, WA
1993 "The Floating Map" (three person show), Eye Level Gallery, Brighton, England
1992 "XII Northwest International Art Competition", Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA
1992 "Seattle Artists 1991 Project", Carnegie Gallery, Seattle, WA
1991 "Fifteenth Annual Rock Island Exhibition", Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois
1991 "The 41st Quad State Juried Exhibition", Quincy Art Center, Quincy, Illinois
1991 "MFA Show", University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IA
1991 "1991 Quad Cities Regional Art Showcase", Davenport Museum, Davenport, IA
1991 "What's New in Art", Galesburg Civic Art Center, Galesburg, Illinois
1991 "TEH", Johnson County Arts Center, Iowa City, IA
1990 "Exemplary Contempr'y", Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery, University of California at Santa Cruz, juried by Barbara Haskell, Whitney Museum 
1990 "Fifth Annual Midwest International", Central Missouri State, Warrensburg, Missouri
1989 "Exemplary Contempr'y", Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery, University of California at Santa Cruz, juried by Carolyn Lancher, Museum of Modern Art 
1987 "Home", Goddard-Riverside Community Center, NY, NY, curated by Faith Ringgold
1987 Studio Art School of the Aegean, Ayios Constantinos, Samos Greece
1986 "Fifth Year Graduates", Sesnon Gallery, University of California at Santa Cruz 
Seattle, “recycle repurpose re-create”, Brangien Davis, page 74, February 2009 
New American Paintings, Juried Exhibition-in-Print, No. 79, Ritz Gonzales, Juror
New York Times, “The Remix, In Store Mix Master”, Whitney McNally, The New York Times Style Magazine, Travel Summer 2007, pg. 42
New American Paintings, Juried Exhibition-in-Print, No. 67, Tumelo Mosaka, Juror
Seattle PI , “Miller's powerful paintings stand out among several noteworthy”, Regina Hackett, Arts and Entertainment, Friday, October 28, 2005 (reproduction)
The Stranger, Nate Lippens, On Exhibit, Seattle's Only Arts Section • Oct 27 - Nov 2, 2005
Seattle Weekly Andrew Engelson, SW THIS WEEK Arts Picks, October 5 - 11, 2004 (reproduction)
Seattle Weekly Andrew Engelson, FALL ARTS, Visual Arts Favorites and Calendar September 14 - 20, 2005
The Stranger, Nate Lippens, “Stranger Suggests”, September 2, 2004, pg. 23
Seattle Post-Intelligencer , “One person's lost film is another's artistic inspiration”, Regina Hackett, Arts and Entertainment, Friday, August 27, 2004 (reproduction)
Seattle Weekly, Andrew Engelson, SW This Week, Arts Picks, August 11 - 17, 2004 (reproduction)
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Howard House hits a hot note with its young artists show”, Regina Hackett, Arts and Entertainment, December 19, 2003
The Portland Mercury, “Second Set Free”, Chas Bowie, Visual Arts, Vol 4 No. 28, Dec 11, 2003 (reproduction)
New York Sun and Art, "The Sentimental Favorite: Abstract Painting" David Cohen, Gallery Going, November 13, 2003 (reproduction)
Art in America, Deborah Sussman Susser, page 123, October 2003, no. 10
Taken Equivalence, Catalogue, essay by Chris Bruce (reproduction)
The Seattle Times, “Exhibit plumbs the depths of painting and photography”, Chris Bruce, page 47, Ticket section.
Modern Painters, “The Mountain is Out”, Elizabeth Brown and Lisa Corrin, page 47-48, vol. 15, no. 3, Autumn 2002
Victoria News, “Pacific Artists Redefine Form”, Jeanine Soodeen, Arts & Entertainment, page 13, December 12, 2001
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Park deftly imbues trivial figures with import; Miller’s domestic scenes touchingly intimate”, Regina Hackett, Art, page 16, October 5, 2001
Asian American Journal: International Examiner, “Two artists inspired by art history, snapshots and anime”, Leo H.K., Arts, page 17, October 3-16, 2001
The Stranger, “Neddy Artists, Not Needy,” Emily Hall, In Arts News, Vol 10 No. 39, Jun 14-Jun 20, 2001
The Seattle Times, “Sculptor, painter win Neddy fellowship”, Pam Sitt, Arts & Entertainment, June 07, 2001 
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Miller, Bruch win Neddy fellowships”, staff, Visual Arts, June 6, 2001
Seattle Post-Intelligencer,”Abstract artists defy predictability in local shows”, Regina Hackett, Arts, page 22, February 16, 2001
The Stranger, “Is Permanence Best? A New Model of Art Collecting”, Emily Hall, Art, vol 10, no.5, Oct 19-Oct 25, 2000
The Seattle Times, “Installations outshine paintings in museum's last Bellevue Square show”, Matthew Kangas, Arts & Entertainment, August 11, 2000 
The Stranger, “The Better Annual, How Brian Wallace Avoided a Cattle Call in Bellevue,” Emily Hall, Vol 9 No. 44, Jul 20-Jul 26 2000
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Art in progress: BAM's Pacific Northwest Annual”, Regina Hackett, Visual Arts, July 11, 2000
The Oregonian, “Dripping with Irony”, D.K. Row, A&E, February 11, 2000, (reproduction)
The Stranger, “Bio: Art, Mark Takamichi Miller”, Eric Fredrickson, pg. 81, November 25-December 1, 1999, (reproduction)
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “High-impact abstractions, clunky still lifes”, Regina Hackett, pg. D1, November 4, 1999, (reproduction)
International Examiner, “Squishing Art on Canvas”, Nhien Nguyen, pg. 16, November 17-30, 1999, (reproduction)
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “1999 Northwest Annual: A very good year at Bellevue museum”, Regina Hackett, pg. D1, July 12, 1999, (reproduction)
Art in America, Matthew Kangas, pg. 125, March, 1999, no. 3, (reproduction pg. 126)
The Seattle Weekly, “The Hit List, Visual Arts (pick of the week)”, Soyon Im, pg. G3, February 12, 1998
International Examiner, “Expressionism vs Saran Wrap”, Owen Santos, pg. 17, February 4-18, vol. 25, no. 3
The Stranger, “Visual Art”, Meg Shiffler, Pg. 39, January-February, 1998
Willamette Week, "WW Pick", Kevin Francis, Pg. 63, August 30-September 5, 1995, (reproduction)
Reflex, "An Uneasy Balance", Elizabeth Bryant, pg. 15, April/May, 1995, (reproduction)
Seattle, "On the Town", Kate Roosevelt, pg. 13, February 1995, (reproduction)
The Oregonian, "Critic's Choice", Randy Gragg, Arts and Entertainment pg. 34, April 22, 1994, (reproduction)
Visions, "A Room of One's Own", Kazuko Nakane, pg. 40, spring 1994
The Oregonian, "A Visual Feast for First Thursday", Randy Gragg, pg. D6, January 5, 1994
Seattle Times, "Something for every taste - Bumbershoot Art", Matthew Kangas, September 2, 1993
Tacoma News Tribune, "Food for thought: Bumbershoot show covers wide menu of art", Douglas McLennan, "Sound Life" section, September 1, 1993 
International Examiner, "Artists find their own 'Room'", Jean Jung, September 1, 1993
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Art from an unexpected corner", Regina Hackett, pg. C1, February 1, 1993
Seattle Weekly, "Visual Arts, reviews", Lyn Smallwood, January 20, 1993, pg. 43
Seattle Weekly, "Visual Arts, spotlight", Lyn Smallwood, pg. 53, April 15, 1992
The Daily Iowan, "Show has merits beyond warning label", Lindsey Park, pg. 9A, January 16, 1991
ArtColl Trust
Microsoft Collection
Safeco Collection
Seattle Arts Commission Portable Works Collection, Seattle, WA
Tacoma Art Museum
Bill and Ruth True
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA