Speaker: Zac Bleicher
Edgar Miller (1899-1993) was a prolific American artist-designer whose work consisted of a wide variety of mediums including painting, sculpture, stained glass, tile, and other craftwork. His practice consisted of both fine and commercial art projects, architectural and built environments, and philosophical writing. Closely associated with the Interwar-era Chicago art and cultural movements, Miller was highly regarded as a leading modernist in many creative fields. He became well-known as an architectural art designer and hands-on artisan, and was highly influential on vernacular “artistic rehab” architecture on the Near North Side of Chicago through the 20th century. His “artistic environment” projects, the Carl Street Studios and the Kogen-Miller Studios, are Victorian homes which were transformed into richly detailed studio apartment buildings for artists starting in the 1920s. Not only did these architectural works influence Miller’s own practice and the trajectory of his professional career, but they also influenced the lives of many other artists and admirers. This lecture highlights major milestones for Edgar Miller leading up to the artistic practices he employed and developed while creating the studios, and to show how these projects affected Miller’s identity and his reputation as an artist throughout the rest of his life, and posthumously.
Zac Bleicher is the founding executive director of Edgar Miller Legacy, a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to preserve the work of late 20th century artist-designer Edgar Miller by advancing research of Miller’s accomplishments and providing opportunities to learn from the artist’s bold sense of creativity, work ethic and artistic philosophy. Bleicher oversees the organization’s growing physical archive of Miller’s work and has directly engaged with art and preservation communities in Chicago to raise awareness and ensure the proper care of Miller’s unique architectural projects on the city’s Near North Side, known as Edgar Miller’s Handmade Homes. Bleicher, originally from Dallas, Texas, received a B.A. in 2003 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied American History, Art History, and Architecture. He has lived and been active in the Chicago civic community since 2006. He received an MBA from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2012.