Margaret Regan, Tucson Artist
Review published by the Tucson Weekly (March 2001)
In Miller's magical realist world, objects shimmer and shake. Euclidean geometry disappears in the organic curves of the exuberant furniture in these deft mixed-media paintings on paper and canvas. Plants and birds sprout on walls; even the floor-lines of rooms arch upward in antic parabolas. "New Year Dresser" is a bright pink-red chest of drawers topped by a cheerful fan; it's planted its curving self firmly on a green floor, a harbinger of good life in the year to come. Like Benson, Miller is a master of great vibrato color. In "Tropical Cupboard," she lays down a stripe of canary yellow next to pulsating turquoise; a brilliant lawn-green floor curves against a hot-pink baseboard. "Pine Dresser" pitches a screaming orange red next to bright teal green.
One hesitates to call these paintings male and female, but the artists explore the traditionally separate realms of men and women. American expansion, with its romance of transportation, of railroads and flight and outer space, has been mostly a male project. One Benson painting, pointedly named "One House Per Acre," alludes to the end result of masculine Manifest Destiny: little boxes on the hillside that obliterate wilderness and native cultures alike.
Miller's paintings tend to explore the intimate life within those houses, the traditional female domestic spaces. But this is no land of submission—her domestic scenes bristle with subversive creativity. "Willa's Tea Party" and its companion, "In the Red Room," are more Mad Hatter than paeans to domestic tranquility. These tea parties are souped up with hot pink and orange wallpaper and screaming yellow tables; Willa's wall is a living forest of trees and flowers and birds. "Monsoon Ladies' Tea" is airborne. The formerly well-behaved teacups have taken flight, propelling themselves upward just as surely as any of Benson's soaring planes.