Gratz Gallery – Forgotten Woman of American Modernism
April 23 – May 31, 2022
5230 Silo Hill Road, Doylestown, PA 18902
Preview Reception, April 23, 5-9pm
Tues. through Sat. 10 – 6, Sun. 12 – 5, and by appointment
DOYLESTOWN, PENN. — Gratz Gallery & Conservation Studio is celebrating its 40th anniversary with an upcoming exhibition of the estate of Peter Miller, a female American Modernist. A selection of her works will also be featured at the 60th Annual Philadelphia Show, conducted April 28 to May 1 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A preview and anniversary party for “Peter Miller – Forgotten Woman of American Modernism” will take place April 23 from 5 to 9 pm at the gallery’s home in Doylestown.
For 40 years, Gratz Gallery has taken great pride in supporting the arts and communities of New Hope, Bucks County, Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. It has worked with many organizations over the years, including the James A. Michener Art Museum, the Princeton University Art Museum, Morven Museum & Garden, the Drumthwacket Foundation, Princeton University, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Mercer Museum, the Woodmere Art Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Pennsylvania Historical Society, the Travis Manion Foundation, AIDS Walk New Hope, the Salvation Army, to name a few.
This year the gallery is committing a portion of its sales to be designated to the Philadelphia organization Philabundance, whose mission is “seeking to drive hunger from our communities today and end hunger forever.”
Over the years, Gratz Gallery has promoted and featured many important female American artists from the New Hope Circle, the Philadelphia Ten and students from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
“The discovery of the Peter Miller collection presented here, and her story, is one the most fascinating and important discoveries we have made over our 40 years representing American painters. It is our great pleasure and honor to present the estate of the artist Peter Miller,” said Paul Gratz.
Born Henrietta Myers in 1913, Miller attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1933. To demonstrate her passion and determination, she wrote in her application that “she would rather fail at painting than succeed at anything else in life.” She adopted her childhood nickname, Peter, and became Peter Miller after marrying fellow academy student Earle Miller in 1935. Thinking she might be taken more seriously by fellow artists, collector and critics with a male sounding name, she was hoping to enhance her career in a world heavily dominated by men. Miller came from an affluent family in Hanover, Penn., and later settled at Rock Raymond Farm in Chester County, Penn.
Miller exhibited at the prestigious Julien Levy gallery in two solo shows in 1944 and 1946. She studied under famed Pennsylvania Impressionist Daniel Garber and privately with Modernist Arthur Carles for ten years. Peter and Earle Miller split their personal time between Pennsylvania and their spiritual home in Santa Fe. Peter was the goddaughter of mystic Edith Warner and San Ildefonso Pueblo Indian Tilano Montoya; both were known for running “Teahouse at Otowi Bridge,” a small, self-sustaining destination for hungry travelers and sometimes even the families of nearby working scientists of the Manhattan project in Los Alamos.
Miller escaped her high society life to become an artist, immersed herself in the ancient history and ceremonies of the Native Americans and drew passion and inspiration from these deeply connected friendships. But she was also friends with the Calders, Henri Matisse, Max Ernst and all of the Surrealists of that time living in New York. Miller’s paintings combine the influences of early Modernist painters such as Pablo Picasso, Jean Miro, Fernand Leger, Arthur Carles and Paul Kleen with Native American symbols, petroglyphs and ceremonial objects. She was a sensual, highly intellectual, independent woman that developed her own style and artistic language.
Miller was a spiritual woman who observed the Native American beliefs of honoring nature. At home in Pennsylvania, Miller was a close friend of the Philadelphia Museum of Art director Anne Julie d’Harnoncourt and became a great patron of the museum. Peter and Earle were fortunate to have owned a collection of paintings, including works by Jean Miro, Alexander Calder and Georges Braque. “Horse, Pipe and Red Flower” by Joan Miro was one of several paintings given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art by the Millers.
Two other important painters from the Philadelphia art scene of those days, and students at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as well, were Modernist and Surrealist artists Leon Kelly and Leonard Nelson. The gallery put together a selection of works by these three Philadelphia painters in a tribute exhibition called “A Philadelphia Story,” which will be featured at the Philadelphia show in April. Gratz Gallery, in cooperation with art historians and experts Francis Naumann, Martica Sawin and Sam Hunter, has published a separate, comprehensive and fully illustrated monograph on each of these three artists. The books will be available for “A Philadelphia Story.”
Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio is at 5230 Silo Hill Road. For additional information, 215-348-2500 or www.gratzgallery.com.
In celebration of our 40th anniversary we are honored to present Peter Miller American, 1913-1996. Forgotten Woman of American Modernism.
THE EXHIBITION IS ACCOMPANIED BY A FULLY ILLUSTRATED MONOGRAPH ON THE ARTIST WITH TEXT WRITTEN BY ART HISTORIAN FRANCIS M. NAUMANN