A Rich Semi-Reality: Eleanor Grace Miller’s Still Life Paintings

If Eleanor Grace Miller’s oil-on-board still life paintings of fabric and solid objects were photographs, the camera would have to be suspended in perpendicular alignment from the ceiling – and the lens would have to stay open for a long, long time. So dark and rich are Miller’s colors, that an almost surreal sense of depth infuses each carefully-arranged scene.

Miller’s work was lately on view at the wonderful Garrison Art Center, which backs up to the icy Hudson River in Putnam County just across from West Point; the show, with Hudson Valley painter Donald Alter, closed today.

Although realistic and fully representational, these are views that do not exist in everyday life – indeed, they are created by the painter herself; Miller has designed some of the patterns on the pottery and material in the paintings. So each view is not merely a collection of items interpreted by the artist – the still life itself is the creation. Each painting seems an execution of the original vision of color, design, and assembly.

The dominant colors are blacks and reds and gold, with bowls and fruit serving as the three-dimensional focal points for swaths of brilliant fabric, some of it designed by the artist specifically for the painting. The result is brilliant – a golden view at a simple world.

The object is a bright and clear vision. As Miller says in her exhibit statement with a quick slash of wit: “I dislike beige. I find it arbitrary: I like the clarity of color.”