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Quinlan celebrates folk icon’s 100th birthday

R.A. Miller’s legacy of homespun creations on display at museum

POSTED: July 19, 2012 12:30 a.m.

It’s hard to say if R.A. Miller would have enjoyed being the center of attention at his 100th birthday party.

The legendary folk artist, preacher and East Hall resident died in 2006, but his lasting legacy of homespun creations lives on.

So even in his absence, the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville will mark the centennial of his birth with a birthday party from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Monday, July 23.

At 1:30, the center will screening the 1997 documentary “Lord Love You: The R.A. Miller Story,” written, produced and directed by Bryan Dodd and Craig Williams.

Born Reuben Aaron Miller on July 22, 1912, he was a self-taught folk artist, best known for his “whirligigs,” metal cutouts and drawings. His large body of work made him one of the more notable senior folk artists in America.

Miller was a preacher at the Free Will Baptist Church and used his artwork to convey spiritual messages. He used paint, magic marker, tin, bicycle parts and scrap metal to create animal and human figures, and short inspirational messages, e.g. “Lord Love you.”

His animal images ranged from bluebirds, chickens, pigs and snakes to an assortment of dinosaur types inspired by National Geographic TV programs. Human figures include devils, angels, culturally iconic symbols such as Uncle Sam and Elvis Presley, and more abstract characters that sport hats, cigars or red claws.

The celebration will include birthday cake and a viewing of Miller’s art in conjunction with the current exhibit, “JUST FOLK: Folk Art meets the Quinlan,” on view through Aug. 11.


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