Keeper of the Plans

Wichita’s quirkiest sculptor opens interactive show this Final Friday

Are they machines or art? See Mike Miller’s sculptures

(FILE VIDEO -- July 26, 2018) Kinetic sculptor Mike Miller had a solo show at CityArts on a Final Friday. Here's a peek at the exhibition.
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(FILE VIDEO -- July 26, 2018) Kinetic sculptor Mike Miller had a solo show at CityArts on a Final Friday. Here's a peek at the exhibition.

This is an art show for people who have never been to one before.

Kinetic sculptor Mike Miller will open a solo show at CityArts, 334 N. Mead, this Final Friday called “Earth is a Rock.”

Miller is known locally for innovative sculptures like a dragonfly on North Broadway, a spider in Gallery Alley, and a DNA sculpture in the river last summer.

And at CityArts, his works whirr and hum — machine/art hybrids that beg the viewer to stare for long periods of time.

There are a few interactive pieces as well: Viewers can crank generator handles to illuminate an LED lightbulb, as well as create patterns in a multicolored sand pit on the gallery floor.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a radial hydraulic pump (salvaged from Commerce Street) that moves five large rocks slightly back and forth.

Miller spent four months creating the piece, which weighs hundreds of pounds (and was loaded into CityArts on a forklift).

But why?

Why would he create this odd machine, knowing that it likely won’t be purchased as a living-room piece anytime soon?

Miller’s work focuses on the interaction between the natural world and the manmade world – hence the odd amalgamation of objects in his sculptures. Anytime his works feature a manmade object, such as the hydraulic pump, they are complemented by a natural object, like rocks or sticks.

That’s the high-level interpretation of his Dr. Seuss-esque works.

But he said his goal is just to create art that anyone can appreciate.

“It’s real easy for an artist to make stuff so sophisticated that only somebody else with an art degree understands it, and that’s dumb,” Miller said. “Art needs to be for everybody. That’s also where the movement thing comes in – it just attracts your attention.”

CityArts will be open from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday for “Earth is a Rock” and the three other exhibitions opening at the gallery this month.

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