Other people’s trash is local junk artist’s treasure

Jinae West

Environmentalist turns garbage into art

PR Miller isn’t interested in saving the world -ÿonly Mother Nature.

“I don’t care about the people,” he said.

PR Miller is a junk artist and staunch environmentalist. Behind the seemingly mundane, the 59-year-old discovers the remarkable, unearthing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Using recycled materials and industrial scrap, Miller molds, paints, welds, frames and sculpts salvage into nonsensical masterpieces, like stepping into a child’s imagination at play.

His pieces are whimsical. Offbeat. Strange. Dizzying. Mesmerizing.

They’re a far cry from Bob Ross’ landscape paintings with happy little trees and clouds.

And yet unconventionality has never looked better.

PR Miller: Waste Naught

Where? The Beth K. Stocker Art Gallery (Lorain County Community College)

When? Friday, Feb. 23 – Friday, March 23 (Gallery hours: Monday – Friday 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)

How much? Free

As his youth was spent among shards of glass, abandoned cars and metal scraps, Miller knows a thing or two about peculiarity. Born and raised in Mars, Pa., Miller grew up with a junkyard behind his house, helping to foster his admiration for “another man’s treasure.”

But Miller said as a child, he wasn’t intentionally creating art for art’s sake.

“Well, it was not considered art to me at the time,” Miller said. “I wasn’t consciously aware of art and artists until I came to the University of Akron in 1966. There wasn’t a connection, no real art to it. It was just that we grew up in poverty, and we’d burn automobiles and get glass and metal.”

The Akron-based artist has since fully realized his aesthetic vision and in the process, established his own definition of art.

“It is an escape into one’s own brain to the total exclusion of everything else. That is the perspective of the artist, not the viewer,” Miller said. “My job is to alter the viewer’s reality.”

Unabashedly honest, Miller is vocal in his beliefs about the environment and society’s self-destruction, a message he said he hopes to transcend through his work.

“We were given a Garden of Eden, and we have destroyed it through our wants for material goods and what money will buy,” he said. “I know a dozen millionaires that live around here, and four are relatively happy. The rest of them are miserable because they’re afraid they’re not going to make more money next year, next week or in the next 10 minutes. “

Instead, Miller said he wants people to come away with a simple smile of satisfaction after viewing his art, and perhaps a more worldly appreciation for their surroundings.

“I just finished a show at the Home & Garden Show at the IX Center,” Miller said. “It was incredible to watch people’s faces change from abject to boredom to ‘Oh my gosh, what’s that?’ type of thing. I had some outrageous stuff. And when I talk to people, and I get involved in these intense conversations, I always bring up recycling and our environmental responsibility. “

Although Miller said he is “anti-political” with “very little tolerance for politics,” he commends public figures with an Al Gore mentality concerning the environment.

“It’s about time those knuckleheads caught up with me,” he said.

Contact ALL correspondent Jinae West at [email protected].