First published: Fall 2001
For many years, art collectors and dealers have left the interstate highway north of Gainesville, Georgia, at the exit to the Old Cornelia Highway and followed the road to the unincorporated, north-Georgia community of Rabbittown. They were watching out for a seven-foot-tall cross with a tin bird nailed to its center and flanked by rectangular signs roughly inscribed, ‘Lord Love You.’ Behind the cross, crude propeller blades on whirligigs made by local artist R A Miller and planted on Windy Hill, spin and twirl on gusty days. Following the road around the Hill, visitors have usually encountered Miller at work in the outdoor shop adjacent to his house, cutting out and painting scores of figures from scrap lumber or roofing tin. Every available exterior surface of his house-cum-gallery is used to display works for sale.
Twenty years ago, when RA Miller was brought to the attention of a wide audience through an Atlanta television program and a music video by the internationally famous rock group, R.E.M. who are based in Athens, Georgia, the hill was covered with around 300 whirligigs. Most had cutout-tin figures nailed to them. In recent times, Windy Hill has been stripped almost bare by the hordes of professional and amateur buyers drawn to the site by Miller’s reputation as a maker of strange and wonderful whimsical objects.
Miller often welcomed all-comers with ‘You’re too late. I ain’t got nothing left,’ gesturing to a wall that only held a dozen or more tin cutouts and drawings on a panel. Some years ago, a typical explanation for what Miller considered to be the disgraceful scarcity went something like this: ‘Feller from California come in and bought pretty near a truckload of stuff from me. And there was plenty of folks here before that. Must be one of my things on every street corner down in Atlanta. They don’t know it ain’t nothing but junk.’
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #36