Davey Miller: Coming full circle
by Mira Reverente
Very few people know what they want to be when
they’re in kindergarten.
Davey Miller was clearly among the minority.
“I remember being pulled aside at school and asked to paint in a
different room,” reminisces Miller, a local artist-surfer-musician.
“They suggested to my mom to transfer me to a different school with an
arts program that was better suited to my abilities.”
The Ventura native remembers growing up with meager resources, raised
by a single mom and older sisters. “Our 1963 Chevy wagon had no radio
and my sisters and I just entertained ourselves by singing and
harmonizing church hymns,” recalls Miller.
Even though art and music came naturally to him, Miller decided to move
to Oahu at the age of 20 to continue another childhood passion –
Miller dedicated the next 20 years of his life to surfing and surfing
alone. He made a living as a wave rider and garnered many awards.
To this day, he holds the distinction of being the only California
surfer to make it to the finals in Pipeline and Sunset and winning both
spots. Surfers from Australia and Hawaii routinely make it to the
“I worked very hard at it and I feel very blessed,” says Miller.
Back in Ventura
Miller moved back to his hometown 10 years ago with his wife and
children. “I wanted to raise them here where I grew up,” he says.
The arts is very much alive in the Miller household. Miller’s wife was
a stage actress in New York. Two daughters are seriously pursuing
ballet, with the older one receiving a much-coveted scholarship to the
American Ballet Theater in New York.
Not much has changed since he left. Miller remembers bringing one of
his daughters to school one day and realizing that there were no art
supplies. He helped raise money for the school’s art program.
Miller left Hawaii for Ventura for his children’s education and because
there was no “jazz scene.” “I didn’t realize it would be the same
scenario here,” he laments.
So he has been hard at work trying to bring jazz to Ventura as an
avocation. Miller creates gigs for musicians who went to college and
studied the craft. “It's an honor to be playing with guys who are
better than me because I’m learning too,” says the self-taught drummer
Miller uses musicians from LA and brings them to local venues,
musicians who have played with different bands including the side men
of Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Sting, Stevie Wonder and
many others. They play at the Ventura Harbor, regaling listeners from
downtown LA and other nearby areas.
“For years, I grew up listening to jazz music and I surf with jazz
music in my ears,” Miller explains. He counts Stanley Clark, Miles
Davis, Bill Evans and Nat King Cole as his early inspirations.
While his forte is nature or surfing-inspired paintings, Miller also
works on abstracts and prefers to use acrylics, lacquer, transparent
and translucent paints.
“I paint all-day long,” Miller describes his days. He turns to nature
for inspiration and it’s also not unusual for him to be listening to
jazz music while wielding his paintbrush. “Jazz music moves my hand”.
He mainly works on commission and sells most of his paintings in the
$3,000 to $30,000 range.
Gerry Lopez, Nat Young, Tommy Curren, Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, Bob
McKnight of Quiksilver, Paul Naude of Billabong and many other world
champion surfers have bought his paintings.
He is currently working on some big projects for the Los Angeles
International Airport and Warner Brothers.
“My art is really a reflection of what I’ve seen and done in my life."
For more information about Davey:
www.daveymiller.com or (805)290-2057
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