John Paul Miller

(Huntington, VA, April 23, 1918 - March 1, 2013)

Gold Town


Watercolor on paper

30 x 16 1/2 in. (76.2 x 41.9 cm)

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

Gift of the Estate of Helen and Frederick Biehle


More Information

Miller created this watercolor of a gold rush ghost town in the American west during the 1940s, and then gave it to the artist Frederick A. Biehle and his wife Helen as a wedding gift in 1952. Miller had taught Biehle at the Cleveland School of Art and, in 1948, had traveled in the western U.S. with him and several other classmates, possibly visiting the site depicted in this watercolor. The image includes upturned and decaying wagons and other metal implements in the foreground, an oblique view of a possibly columned building in the midground, and additional buildings and mountains in the distance. With similarly bold, snaking, and quickly-rendered lines serving a variety of purposes throughout the picture (here a wagon part, there a mountain ridge, there a the edge of a cloud) the work suggests the energy and immediacy of a sketch completed on site, but through colorful details in the soil, grasses, wooden objects, and clouds it also maintains a higher degree of finish. The color palette is mostly restricted to ruddy earth tones, greens, and blues, but through sharp juxtapositions and contrasts these can appear surprisingly bright and vibrant.