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Georgia Museum of Art show focuses on R.A. Millers folk art
0806Miller-coke bottle
Coca-Cola Bottle, enamel paint on board, by R. A. Miller.

‘Lord Love You: Works by R.A. Miller from the Mullis Collection'

When: Saturday through Oct. 24; opening reception 6-8 p.m. Aug. 15
Where: Lyndon House Arts Center, 293 Hoyt St., Athens
How much: Free

Do you have an R.A. Miller piece you'd like to share?

Submit an image of your piece to the GMOA's digital gallery. E-mail your file to gmoapr@yahoo.com or send prints to c/o Jenny Williams, Georgia Museum of Art, 90 Carlton St., Athens, GA 30602. Photos and stories will be collected on the museum's Flickr page.

A piece of art hangs above your head every time you walk down Bradford Street in downtown Gainesville.

The tin pieces by Rabbittown artist R.A. Miller — a simple man who created whirligigs and sold them by the side of the road — could easily find a home in a museum, especially after the Georgia Museum of Art's new show focusing solely on Miller's work.

The exhibit, "Lord Love You: Works by R.A. Miller from the Mullis Collection," features 83 paintings, drawings, sculptures and whirligigs created by Reuben Aaron "R.A." Miller. Opening Saturday at the Lyndon House Arts Center in Athens, the opening reception is 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 15. The exhibit closes Oct. 24.

Local residents who drove through East Hall in the 1980s and early '90s knew Miller as the man who had hundreds of whirligigs in his yard, a stone's throw from the Rabbittown rabbit. His work got attention from the art world when the Athens band R.E.M. featured his yard in several music videos.

Paul Manoguerra, who curated the Miller show for the Georgia Museum of Art, said even if you're familiar with Miller's work, visitors to the show will be surprised at the array of colors and types of pieces Miller made.

"There are a couple that are extremely unique and rare," Manoguerra said, including one called "Fat Devil."

"(It's) painted on one half of a Bierley's drink billboard — I think it was originally a drink that came out of Southern California," he said. "R.A. got a hold of the billboard and he painted on it."

The show features a combination of more well-known pieces — like Miller's Blow Oskars and devils — but there are more unique paintings and sculptures, too.

All of the pieces are from the collection of Carl Mullis, who started collecting Miller's work in 1994 after seeing some of his work in a catalog and reading a magazine article about him. Mullis said he owns more than 100 pieces, and said he's drawn to their emotion.

"They're just very striking pieces. Simplistic, but they're very powerful pieces," Mullis said. "They show a lot of emotion. They speak to people.

"R.A.'s pieces are very recognizable — that's another quality of a good artist. You can always recognize an R.A. Miller piece."

Manoguerra said the exhibit is a chance to see Miller's work in a completely different setting - namely, as fine art on a clean, white wall, rather than, say, the side of a downtown Gainesville building.

"I think people in general will be struck by the color and the diversity of the work," he said. "So many of us are used to seeing (his pieces) on a restaurant wall. ... To see the art in a gallery context, it will hopefully be a different experience for people who are familiar with R.A."

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