SOUTHAMPTON, NY —There hangs on a wall in a massive, 20,000 sq ft space, a wonderful selection of paintings by the East End painter Paton Miller, a well-known and highly collected artist on Long Island’s South Fork. Mr. Miller arrived here from Hawaii back in 1974 after traveling throughout Asia and Europe and fell in love with the island’s topography (and a girl) and decided to stick around. Being a surfer, he checked out the local break off Gin Lane upon his arrival.
He immediately befriended a young man his age and a fellow surfer named Dave Lichtenstein, who informed Paton that his father was also an artist. The two are still best buds, even though Paton had no idea who Roy Lichtenstein was at their meeting. Roy proffered some advice on painting for the young, budding artist, as did De Kooning, whom he met in the early ’80s at De Kooning’s studio. Paton was lucky enough to sit alongside the maestro in one of his famous rocking chairs, side-by-side, to contemplate on art in a studio full of work still in the throes of creation. When Patton asked if the pieces in front of them were finished, De Kooning replied hesitantly, ‘I think so.’
Paton Miller is also a teacher of painting and a curator who champions other artists around him with a larger-than-life personality. He brings his travel experiences into his art and brings his travel to life by the multitude of sketches he does while out and about traveling. Whether utilizing indigenous iconography from British Colombia’s First Nations tribe or that of a mere cow found on all continents worldwide, Mr. Miller creates art that is multi-layered in its materiality, of paints, tacks, and canvases,
(he cuts and slices canvases and finished paintings apart only to mix them up and stitch them back when and where it suits him; this, he says, “provides a freedom which I like”), and multi-faceted in its use of imagery, memories past and present, and places, here and afar. His work conveys a journeyman’s sense of longing, a longing to return to the sea, the mountaintop, the village of our grandparent’s parents, or that surf break off Portugal.
This is no romanticized trip-down-memory-lane-art, either; this is an art that hacks humanity’s DNA to harness in paint a commonality amongst peoples’ simple truths in observations that foster love, respect, and peace. They are hymns in paint to all that we hold dear (or should). When the universe has us torn apart—kept at a distance—and life seems more puzzling than ever, it’s refreshing to see a wall of 20 or so paintings by an artist who gathers the obscure and the beautiful to create something uniquely his —to share. —Gregory de la Haba
Paton Miller Paintings
Collette Home Pop-Up (Former Pier One Space)
54 Montauk Highway
Dec 5-Dec 31, 2020