Paintings 1980 - 1981

A few years ago my wife Karen and I stayed overnight at a hotel in Hanover, New Hampshire. In the morning, as we worked our way through the breakfast line, I recognized someone I hadn’t seen in a long time, an art collector from New York. We talked for a minute or two and then he turned toward a table where his wife and several friends were having breakfast. Motioning to get her attention he said, “Look who’s here.” She looked up and recognized the face, but instead of a hello or a wave of the hand as a greeting she said across the crowded restaurant: “They blew up the cake!” 


What she was referring to was a line of text in a painting in their collection which came from an exhibition at the Meisel Gallery. The painting, “Buddha’s Birthday”, depicts a hazy panoramic sky above a foreground on which small sticks are burning. Above the sticks are the words they blew up the food. In the sky the words Buddha’s Birthday have been painted over with white washes so that they are not noticeable at first glance.


Over time she had come to see the food as cake, which in fact it was, tiny rice cakes arranged among flags and candles and other other small items. Another viewer might have imagined the food as something different. What is  important is that, as a viewer, she had created her own version of the event. Unlike the oil pastel drawings shown on this website that give specific information about the images being depicted, these paintings offer only clues about place and circumstance. Instead the viewer is left to assemble images such as paint peeling from a Caribbean wall, a piece of Asian fabric, an animal hide, something that might be a column or gateway to a shrine, and a barely visible word or phrase, into a coherent visual narrative.

Excerpt from ”A Room With a View” story page

in the Gallery section of this website.

The sun rose above the yard on Buddha’s birthday and the morning air was clear. The voices of women cackled like electricity as they circled an outdoor table arranging food and small flags and lighted candles. Then all at once, as if by instinct, they jumped back, and sharp firecracker blasts blew flags, candles and food into the air. As fragments of yellow paper settled in the sand and the smell of gunpowder hung in the air, the women surveyed the table. They seemed pleased with what they had done.

“Buddha’s Birthday”  1981

acrylic on canvas  28 x 16”

two panels

Private Collection, New York

BUDDHA’S BIRTHDAY

Nothing He Could Do    1980

oil and acrylic on canvas    27 x 24”

Private Collection, New York   

Descending into Heat    1981

acrylic on canvas    30 x 14”

two panels

Crimes of Chinese Twins    1980

oil and acrylic in canvas    26 x 14”

two panels

Private Collection, New York

Entering Tokyo    1981

acrylic on canvas   30 x 16”

two panels

Private Collection, New York

Yokohama    1981

oil and acrylic on canvas    26 x 22”

two panels

Text reads: IN A CHEAP HOTEL DURING A SNOWLESS WINTER

Oppressive Heat    1980

oil and acrylic on canvas    36 x 14”

two panels

Leaving Tokyo    1981

oil and acrylic on canvas    30 x 16”

two panels

Private Collection, Seattle

Departure by the Caribbean Route    1980

oil and acrylic on canvas    27 x 17”

two panels

Innocent    1980

oil and acrylic on canvas    24 x 24”

three panels

Collection of the Prudential Insurance Corporation

Nine Paintings from 1980 - 1981

The sky section of each painting contains a word or phrase in the underpainting which is  barely visible at first glance. It is intended to be found at a later viewing. The texts below have been enhanced for this website. Unless otherwise noted, the text is the title of the painting.

©  Paintings photographs and text copyright Wayne Miller

©  Meisel Gallery installation photographs used by permission of the Louis K. Meisel Gallery

Painting exhibition, Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York  

NOTHING HE COULD DO

DESCENDING INTO HEAT

CRIMES OF CHINESE TWINS

ENTERING TOKYO

IN A CHEAP HOTEL DURING A SNOWLESS WINTER

OPPRESSIVE HEAT

LEAVING TOKYO

DEPARTURE

BY THE CARIBBEAN ROUTE

INNOCENT

Paintings awaiting installation.

For information about the Louis K. Meisel Gallery go to the Links page.