Sensory Experience of Perception

These individuals, directly, through their writing, or through their work, influenced my artistic and intellectual growth.  This page is an ongoing project.

Walter Benjamin - Reading Benjamin introduced me to Central European criticism and, provided an Augenblik (glimpse) of between the wars intellectual life, a subject that was not readily accessible to undergraduate students  in 1960’s America.

Richard Diebenkorn and his circle were an unavoidable influence on Bay Area art in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Diebenkorn’s work continues to inform and inspire my work and my understanding of what and how to paint.

Clarence Glacken - geography professor at Berkeley, has his own section below. It may well evolve into an essay on the history of environmental thought.

Muriel Goodwin - friend, painter.

Ms Goodwin provided encouragement and insightful criticism of my paintings. When she worked in my studio it was the equivalent of being in a master class.

Alfred Leslie - painter, instructor.

I met Alfred Leslie when I took his life drawing class at UCLA in the summer of 1964. I had a big roll of butcher paper which I used to make large drawings of the models. He taught us to draw the human form – and he screened his films Pull My Daisy and Last Clean Shirt.

 This was two years before the studio fire that destroyed the greater portion of his large Grisaille paintings that were being prepared for an exhibition at the Whitney. 

Since that summer I have followed Leslie’s work and, over the years, I've kept in touch with him through occasional notes and emails. 

I have been guided his approach to art, which involved making large paintings, working in several mediums, and radically changing course several times.

I like his work, I admire his sensibilities, and I am grateful for the connection he provide to the beat generation, and to the immediate post-war artistic community.

Link to NY Times discussion of Cedar Bar


Erle Loran - art professor at U. C. Berkeley.

Cézanne’s Composition: Analyses of His Form with Diagrams and Photographs of his Motifs, is based upon the research Loran  conducted during the three years he lived in Cézanne’s studio in Aix en Provence, where he photographed subjects of Cézanne’s paintings, and analyzed how Cézanne altered the paintings to produce an acceptable composition. In my freshman year I bought and read the first of many copies of his book. I still give copies to friends.

 Mr. Loran provided a personal connection to the Abstract Expressionism, and to the Bay Area art and cultural scene that I experienced in the 1960’s. (See Landauer, The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism.)

In the third week of October, 2018, I visited Cézanne’s studio and  the quarry Bibémus where he also painted. When I observed the subjects  of various paintings from the locations where he had made the paintings, I was able understand Cézanne’s reorganization of the optical reality of the motifs much more clearly than I had been able to from looking at prints and photographs. 

Cézanne played a major role in the transition from representational art to non-objective art.

Gottardo Piazzoni - Swiss-born Bay Area painter.

“Lene,” Arlene Washburn - my fourth grade teacher, a family friend, my lifelong friend and mentor.

Lene, whom I had to call Miss Washburn when I was in fourth grade, encouraged me to draw and paint. She taught me how to draw, how to paint, and how to learn. She also set an example for how to live, and and how to die. 

Lene arranged for me to show my work to Madam Chouinard who encouraged me to apply to The Chouinard Art Institute  MFA program. I was not able to do so, but her endorsement reinforced my belief in my talent.

Harold Webb - chemistry teacher at El Monte High School, sponsor of the chemistry team and mineralogy club.

Mr. Webb provided a rigorous grounding in science and mathematics that has been invaluable throughout my life. On mineralogy club field trips, in addition to collecting rocks, he encouraged me to paint landscapes and spoke well of my efforts.

Paul Wheatley - Geography professor at Berkeley, team-taught Geography 100A and 100B with Mr. Glacken. Wheatley wrote two remarkable books:

Pivot of the Four Quarters is a history of the development of Chinese cities, and, incidentally, a history of the invention of cities throughout the world. Places Where Men Go to Pray is a history of the development, form, and function of medieval Muslim cities.

Art is Really Important

Gurdon Miller


















[Add Pissaro and Cézanne paintings with captions.]

[Add photo(s) of visit to Cézanne studio.]

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Clarence Glacken - geography professor at U. C. Berkeley.

Mr. Glacken introduced his students to the study of the history of ideas. He team-taught, with Paul Wheatley, Geography 100A and 100B, the two semester upper division class in geographic thought required of all Berkeley Geography majors and those graduate students who came to Berkeley from other colleges and universities.

Had I not encountered these two individuals, from whom I took as many courses as I could, it is unlikely that I would have remained in school. The content of their classes and the intellectual breadth of their lectures and publications kept me in Berkeley and continue to inspire me.

Glacken taught and wrote about the relationship between culture  and the environment. His book, Traces on the Rhodian Shore, is widely recognized as the most important environmental book published in the twentieth century.   Link to Books Page                       

I was aware for many years of the existence of a file box containing Mr. Glacken’s unpublished manuscripts, and I wished I could explore its contents. In 2017 the University of Virginia Press published Genealogies of Environmentalism: the Lost Works of Clarence Glacken, based, in part on the contents of this file box. I ordered several copies, and I have given copies to many friends.

link to Genealogies of Environmentalism: the Lost Works of Clarence Glacken

As I read The Lost Works, I find myself imagining discussions with its author as I discover connections between what he was thinking about in the middle of the last century — cultural geography as the study of landscape as a cultural artifact,  and what I am thinking about and working on now — art as mediated by the sensory experience of perception. 


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updated: 18 May 2018 (m)
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