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JUNE 12 to AUGUST 1, 2009

In Gallery 1

The Ecstasyist

New City | Chicago Tribune |
Chicago Art Review
| LeChicago Art Blog


Dutes Miller’s first solo show at Western Exhibitions, “The Ecstasyist”, features a new series of collages, artists books and phallic sculptures that examine the spaces where the artist’s inner life, queer subcultures and mass media intersect. Miller appropriates images from pornographic websites, magazines and his own personal imaginings to investigate alternative standards of beauty, visualizations of lust and desire found on the internet, and power dynamics in sexual relationships.

Miller dissects and reassembles individual photo spreads from gay pornographic magazines to create collages that resemble cubist portraits in the way they show the same model in similar poses from different angles. A companion series of large-scale figure studies on paper further complicate the ideal of beauty and desire: they are realized using jpegs posted on internet pick-up site created by and for “bears” (a subculture of large, hairy gay who value gruffly masculine behavior). The men in these drawings are not the buff hunks populating most porno mages, but nonetheless they project a raw sexuality.

“In the Garden” depicts an erotic battle between two figures collaged together from queer porn and pro wrestling magazines. Pro wrestling stars have figured greatly in Miller’s work. The use of these iconic figures humorously project queer fantasies into mainstream pop culture and reflect upon how power relations are encoded in sexual desire. Miller has written of his fascination with these larger-than-life cartoonish warriors: “WWF wrestling was the only erotic material available to me (as a teen). The anticipation of waiting to see some intentional man-to-man genital contact, no matter how violent, was always in conflict with being found out as a faggot by anyone who happened to see my growing enthusiasm.”

Other works in the show include the hand-made artist book "The Ecstasyist", composed of altered ink-jet prints, ink drawings, and watercolors and Miller’s sculptures, perhaps best described as fetish objects, that are made by filling condoms with either plaster or silicon, and hung from meat hooks to allow gravity to determine the shape as the material solidifies.

This is Dutes Miller’s first solo show at Western Exhibitions. Miller’s collages have been included in exhibitions at Western Exhibitions, 40000 and COMA. His collaborative work with his husband Stan Shellabarger, as Miller & Shellabarger, has been well received locally and nationally, winning a 2008 Artadia Award and a 2007 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award. Western Exhibitions has presented solo projects of their work at the NADA Art Fair in Miami and the VOLTA show in Basel, Switzerland in 2008. Miller & Shellabarger have been written about in, Art & Auction, Frieze, Artnet, The Art Newspaper, Flash Art, TimeOut Chicago, and the Chicago Sun-Times. Miller received a BFA from Illinois State University and is an accomplished pastry chef. He lives and works in Chicago.