For his second solo show at Western Exhibitions, “In the Garden,” Dutes Miller presents an installation of new works on paper and sculptures that invokes an ecstatic vision of nature in which homosexuality is not only included but is the norm. Miller re-imagines Eden as gay cruising grounds, a carnal paradise populated by homosexual fauna that hunt one another amongst phallic flora. Although playful and imaginative, his recent work critically engage with the mythologies surrounding human sexuality.
The show opens on Friday, December 14 with a free public reception from 5 to 8pm.
Continuing his exploration of appropriated sexual imagery, Miller’s new works on paper consist of pages torn from gay porn magazines, which the artist has altered by painting over the men with acrylic and gouache. In the resulting images, the figures sometimes stand out starkly, other times they disappear into their environments. The effect is whimsical, evocative, and eerie. The anonymous figures, identifiable mainly by the color with which each is individually embellished, evoke aspects of gay sexual practices such as cruising and the coordination of desire by strict typology. These works also allude to the continuing invisibility of actual homosexual desire in mainstream media despite increased acceptance of gay culture.
Miller’s gallery of monochromatic men overlooks a garden with an Astroturf floor, planted with strange fungi and over which distended fruit dangle. These fleshy plant forms comprise clusters of cast wax fingers and objects produced by filling condoms with silicon or plaster. A fountain, “Lingam” provides the centerpiece of Miller’s polymorphous perverse patch, its title referencing phallic sculptures that represent the Hindu deity, Shiva. Other works on view augment the charged atmosphere of sexuality, nature, and spirituality. “Dicks In,” for instance, shows a collaged arrangement of anuses in the form of a mandala. In several works, such as “Target Practice #2” animal forms predominate, suggesting a zoology of queer desire.
Dutes Miller’s first solo show at Western Exhibitions in 2009 was reviewed on Artforum.com, Time Out Chicago, New City and the Chicago Tribune and was named one of the “Top 5 Shows of the Year” by the Chicago Art Review. Miller’s work has been included in exhibitions at White Flag Projects in St. Louis (reviews here and here) and the Ukranian Museum of Art, 40000 and COMA, all in Chicago His collaborative work with his husband Stan Shellabarger, as Miller & Shellabarger, won a 2008 Artadia Award and a 2007 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award.. Miller & Shellabarger have been written about in Artforum.com, Art & Auction, Frieze, Artnet, The Art Newspaper, Flash Art, TimeOut Chicago, and the Chicago Sun-Times. Miller received a BFA from Illinois State University and is an accomplished pastry chef. He lives and works in Chicago.