Melinda Miles (1944-2009) belonged to a generation of artists who settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico around 1980. Historically, artists were drawn to the city’s old-world character, but by the late twentieth century Santa Fe enjoyed new standing as a cultural center. It would nurture her ambitions as a painter within a broad new movement of American realism. She went on to create a disciplined and coherent body of work that would find a national following. Her achievement can now be seen as an important chapter in the story of post war American art and this is the first book to be published on her work.
Miles’ career spanned nearly forty years. Her painting included portraiture, a series of interiors, the major body of still life she was best known for, and a late series of train imagery that became a summation of her life’s work. Influences from Hopper, Wyeth, Peto, and the Luminists are evident. Yet she would develop a distinctive voice that allowed her to treat themes of passage and life’s impermanence with what she once called a “sweet sadness.”
Miles developed a painting technique that rivaled the realist trompe l’oeil style of William Harnett but adapted it to hint at transcendence rather than materiality. Of the motif of passage, recurring in each of her thematic periods, she said, “I’ve always felt aware of the transitory nature of existence in which everything is always in a state of transformation. I find a kind of beauty in that ongoing stream of loss and newness.”
Elizabeth Cook-Romero lives in Santa Fe, NM. Previously she was the art critic for The New Mexican newspaper and a staff writer for Pasatiempo, Santa Fe’s weekly arts magazine. Before moving to New Mexico, Cook-Romero taught at the Pratt-Phoenix School of Design in New York City. She studied at the School of Visual Art, NY, the National Academy of Design, NY, and with calligrapher and painter Masako Yamamoto.
Sarah McCarty and Eric Thomson were friends of Melinda Miles, who named them trustees for her estate and for her artwork estate, respectively. After producing Miles’ posthumous exhibit in 2010, they determined to publish this book.
Sarah McCarty moved to Santa Fe in 1981, where she has a career as a painter and garden designer. Her work on the book includes conception, writing, research, and editing.
Eric Thomson moved to Santa Fe in 1976. He has a career as a gallerist and artist and currently owns and manages Argos Galleries. His work on the book includes conception, writing, editing, photography, and image editing. He met Melinda Miles in 2004 when she exhibited in a group show at Argos. She later named him Artwork Agent for her artwork estate.
Size: 11 x 11in.
Plates: 270 color plates