Recent Solo Frottage Gallery show at Milton Art Center June, 2013.
Three pieces were sold.
(Miller also performed a solo guitar set.)
Like most people, Miller began drawing as a kid. He kept at it, off and on, until Spring 1969. This period of creative upheaval in his life spawned Sproton Layer, and he simultaneously developed a drawing style which he happily refers to as “The Ozonic Era”. Naive line drawings but with psychic impact (see booklet in the 2011 Sproton Layer release, With Magnetic Fields Disrupted). From then on, he maintained an active interest in drawing. By 1974, he realized that what he termed “Psychedelic” drawing was actually “Surrealist” drawing. This gave his art a new focus, and illegal past-times previously associated with drawing were no longer so critical. That’s as far as he got until he delved into Frottage.
Frottage is a technique developed by one of Miller’s favorite artists, the surrealist Max Ernst (see the first Mission of Burma 45; also see “Max Ernst’s Dream” from Burma’s ONoffON album). Frottage means “rubbing” – in typical surrealist fashion, it also has sexual innuendos. One rubs surfaces, and creates from there.
Here’s a link to a Frottage drawing (2002), scanned at 7 different stages of its creation, with a list of surfaces used at each stage.
The following is Miller’s “Artist Statement” for his first show in 2002:
I am a collector, an organizer, and a densifier of surfaces.
I began this work in May 2001, though the seeds of discontent had been placed inside me years before. Desiring to lose some of my ego, I implemented the automatic technique of “frottage” (french for “rubbing”). It was an invention of Max Ernst’s (a displaced German), during the heyday of the surrealist 1920’s.
In May 2001 I sat in a metal chair in my semi-secluded backyard and rubbed my first frottages with a graphite stick. The bricks, the tree bark, the picnic table, the metal chair I was sitting on, the street lamp I’d picked up off the ground years before, all yielded images through the textural sense that were barely visible to the eye. Touching becomes a new seeing.
Frottage is about the organization of chance elements – whatever is in the environment is the goddamn goods: what else is there? Frottage makes the world easier to project meaning on to.
There are some similarities to music in this work for me: the searching aspect of improvisation and the discovery involved. The way that one must somehow conclude, causing the materials to interact in a cohesive fashion, what one has started. To this end, I always add some intentional hand-drawing to bring out the underlying “meaning” of the piece. Conscious control is minimal, but previously veiled ideas and psychic elements are uncovered – this has more than a slight connection to dreams (I have composed a number of musical “Dream Interpretations” over the years). And I leave these elements in a highly ambiguous state intentionally – rather than fixing an image to a “known emotive charge”. I prefer to leave the eye-pools open to interpretation. Vertigo.
It amuses me on a daily basis.
Roger C. Miller
In 2004 he activated more “hand-drawing” to the pieces. These are referred to as Scrawls, as they generally are done quickly, and usually incorporate Frottage as well – hence “Scrawl/Frottages”. The one he did of Pete while Burma was in Seattle is certainly one of the most satisfying of this series, and was used on a Mission of Burma t-shirt in 2010 – and sold quite well!
His work has been included in many shows, both solo and group, and he has sold numerous pieces. Frottage drawings were used as cover art for the Mission of Burma 45 Dirt/Falling; the Monsoon CD (Lee Ranaldo, William Hooker, Roger Miller); Benjamin Miller’s LAYERS CD; a Sci-Fi Convention booklet cover; and the cover for “To the Teeth/To the Hilt”, an LP by the Canadian band Headfirst . Pre-Frottage drawings were used on his solo piano CD “The Benevolent Disruptive Ray”, and the Sproton Layer booklet (for the 2011 World of Sound release) incorporates many of his Ozonic Era (1969/1970) drawings.
He continues to draw, though his ability to compose music in his laptop has taken up much of that energy.
One-person show. Milton Art Center, Milton, MA.
25 frottages of many sizes (color and b+w).
Solo “Unplugged” guitar performance.
March 7 – 28.
One-person show. ZuZus Gallery at Middle East, Cambridge.
20 frottages of many sizes (color and b+w).
Binary System performed opening night.
Nov.20 – Jan.5, 2006.
One-person show. The Abaton Garage Jersey City, New Jersey.
20 Frottages (color and b+w) and a folder of abstract photographs by the artist.
M2 performed opening night.
Dec. 2001 – Jan.2005.
Fifteen drawings included in “the Boston Drawing Project” at the Bernard Toale Gallery in Boston, MA (b+w).
April 20 – May 18.
Group Show: Monochrome. Alternate Currents presents at Space 200, Boston, MA
Curated by James Manning.
6 Frottage drawings shown (b+w).
March 10 – Apr.3.
Featured artist in the “Climbing the Walls” Show at the JP Art Market Gallery, JP, MA.
14 Frottage Drawings of various sizes (color and b+w).
Jan.27 – Mar.2.
“From the Epicenter” – a show of works by Roger Miller and Joanne Kaliontzis at the Paradise Lounge Gallery, Boston, MA.
Over 40 works by Roger Miller, including frottage drawings, photographs, drawings from album artwork (color and b+w).
Opening night music by The Binary System.
May: A frottage drawing was used for the cover of the Mission of Burma 45: Dirt/Falling (Matador Records).
Sept.: A frottage drawing was commissioned for the cover of an LP by Headfirst (Canadian Records).
Oct.: A frottage drawing appears on the cover of the CD “Monsoon” by Lee Ranaldo/William Hooker/Roger Miller (Atavistic Records).
Sept.: Previewing a concert by M2 there was an article in “The Weekly Dig” featuring three frottage drawings and an interview with Roger on his drawing techniques and attitude.
Feb.6 – Mar.1.
Group show: “Between Rock and an Art Place” show – rock musicians who also “do art”.
The Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge, MA.
10 frottage drawings shown.
A feature article on Roger Miller as a frottage artist appeared in the Boston Phoenix for this show, and the drawing “9/1/02 Telluride, CO” was reproduced in the Boston Globe.