LOS ANGELES unscrolls like a run-on sentence — commas, semi-colons, em-dashes. But to see Los Angeles before its super-structure of elevated roads — freeways — is a different sort of sentence, unfinished, without punctuation at all. So beautiful. A new show that opens next Saturday, at the Craig Krull Gallery, features the work of photographer Richard C. Miller. These pieces are “snapshots” he made with his 35mm or 4-by-5 while tooling around town between his paying gigs.
Miller, now 98, arrived in Los Angeles early last century and copiously documented incidental details — parking lots, street corners, traffic lights, Good Humor trucks and, most dramatically, the construction of the Hollywood Freeway — the four-level and all. Miller saved everything and we benefit from the gift of it. I’m in the midst of finishing up a piece for the Times about the show. A couple of years a go I spent a good portion of the day in Calabassas with Miller and his daughter and some close artist/photographer friends. They were packing him up and moving him to the Hudson River Valley. saw stacks of prints, pillars of boxed negatives and transparencies fitted into closets and beneath beds. Everything was being cleared and and sent to a air-controlled vault — blessedly. Also, since then Miller has had some work hang at the Getty and is flying back here for the gallery opening. Imagine, coming of age when L.A. came of age. Imagine, riding back-and-forth on the freeway just for the thrill of connecting the dots faster. Miller’s work allows us to visualize those transitions, L.A.’s own there to here story. He diagrams that run-on sentence.