My first sojourn across the southwestern U.S. was with paternal grandmother and step-grandfather, that lived next door, when I was about eight or nine. A decade later, as a young Navy Airman, I made the drive from Los Angeles to Corpus Christi, Texas. It took me through the Sonoran & Chihuahuan deserts & El Paso del Norte. I’ve had a great affection for their landscapes ever since. Many travelers, over centuries and millennia, have made their journeys north-south and east-west as I did through these regions. Meme’s family were part of the 20th Century migrations.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a copy of RENOIR TO REMINGTON IMPRESSIONISM TO THE AMERICAN WEST, Edited by Patrick Shaw Cable, El Paso Museum of Art (2014).
On page 131 you’ll see a brief-bio of Ada Miller, which reads:
“ADA MILLER (American 1874-1956)
Organ Mountains, 1920
El Paso Museum of Art. Gift of Hal Marcus and Patricia Medici. 2009. 7.1 (pl. 90)
Ada Miller was born in 1874 in Sweetwater, Texas, and is considered an early California Impressionist painter. After her first husband disappeared and her second husband died from consumption, Miller struggled financially while raising her children. Eventually, in 1910, she and her three children moved to El Paso in order to have an easier time finding work. Miller had always enjoyed drawing and she wished to devote more time to art, which she was able to do after her first son was drafted into the army and her daughter married. Following a third marriage, Miller began lessons in oil painting and later studied with Lewis Teel in El Paso and other artists in California. While in El Paso she focused on the depiction of the Texas high desert and its foliage and flowers. In 1932 Ada and her third husband, Frank Miller, moved to Venice Beach, California. Miller remained the rest of her life in California, where she spent her days gardening and painting.”
One of the many benefits has been the ability to drink-in the landscapes that Ada Miller painted. As a National Park Ranger I worked at some desert parks, and visited many others. There is something special about arid places, and I am a fan of her work. I often find myself staring at her interpretations, wondering about the effort and experience of “being there then.” For now, let’s just enjoy some (with apologies for my humble photographic efforts)