Gratz Gallery & Conservation Studio Inc. is celebrating its 40th anniversary with an exhibition of the estate of Peter Miller, a female American Modernist.
A selection of her works will also be featured at the 60th annual Philadelphia Show, held April 28 to May 1 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
A preview and anniversary party for “Peter Miller – Forgotten Woman of American Modernism” will be held 5 to 9 p.m. April 23 at the gallery’s home in Plumstead Township, near Doylestown.
For 40 years, Gratz Gallery has supported the arts and communities of New Hope, Bucks County, Philadelphia, and the Delaware Valley. it has worked with many organizations over the years, among them the James A. Michener Art Museum, The Princeton University Art Museum, Morven Museum & Garden, the Drumthwacket Foundation, Princeton University, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Mercer Museum, the Woodmere Art Museum, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Pennsylvania Historical Society, the Travis Manion Foundation, AIDS Walk New Hope and the Salvation Army.
This year it announced its commitment for a portion of our sales to be designated to the Philadelphia organization Philabundance, “seeking to drive hunger from our communities today and end hunger forever.”
Over the years, Gratz Gallery has promoted and featured many important female American artists from the New Hope Circle, The Philadelphia Ten, and students from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
“It has always been our belief that female artists more often do not receive the deserved recognition for their work and talent,” said Paul Gratz, owner. “It is with hope and confidence that we are finally seeing women artists from history and current times being reevaluated and honored for their contributions to the American art community, as this has been long overdue.”
Born Henrietta Myers in 1913, Peter Miller attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1933.
To demonstrate her passion and determination, she wrote in her application that “she would rather fail at painting than succeed at anything else in life.”
She adopted her childhood nickname, Peter, and became Peter Miller after marrying fellow academy student Earle Miller in 1935.
Thinking she might be taken more seriously by fellow artists, collectors, and critics with a male sounding name, she was hoping to enhance her career in a world heavily dominated by men. Peter came from an affluent family in Hanover, Pa., and later settled at Rock Raymond Farm in Chester County.
She designated the 350-acre farm and property to be donated to the Brandywine Conservancy after her death in 1996. Peter escaped her high society life to become an artist, immersed herself in the ancient history and ceremonies of the Native Americans, and drew passion and inspiration from these deeply connected friendships.
Peter and Earle Miller split their personal time between Pennsylvania and their spiritual home in Santa Fe. But she was also friends with the Calders, Henri Matisse, Max Ernst, and all of the surrealists of that time living in New York. Peter Miller’s paintings combine the influences of early modernist painters such as Pablo Picasso, Jean Miro, Fernand Leger, Arthur Carles, and Paul Klee, with Native American symbols, petroglyphs, and ceremonial objects. At home in Pennsylvania, Peter Miller was a close friend of the late Philadelphia Museum of Art Director Anne Julie d’Harnoncourt , and became a great patron of the museum.
Peter and Earle were fortunate to have owned a stunning collection of paintings, including works by Jean Miro, Alexander Calder, and Georges Braques. “Horse, Pipe, and Red Flower” by Joan Miro was one of several paintings given to The Philadelphia Museum of Art by the Millers. Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio is located at 5230 Silo Hill Road, Doylestown.