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This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the January 9, 2002

edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Afghanistan, Before War

An elderly man in a white turban carrying a pair of

hand-thrown clay water jugs makes his way across an unpaved market

square. The image, one of a rich collection by David Miller, captures

daily life in the kingdom of Afghanistan during a time of peace. Taken

in the late 1960s, the image could just as well have come from the

15th century.

"Afghanistan, Before…" is the title that photographer David

H. Miller has given to a group of photographs that even he has largely

ignored for the past 30 years. His show opens this week at Gallery

14, a cooperative photo gallery founded last year in Hopewell. Also

opening is "Floral Interpretations," a group of


photographs of flowers by Jay H. Anderson. An opening reception for

both shows is Friday, January 11, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Shoemakers, grain sifters, women veiled and unveiled going about their

daily tasks, children at play, nomads and others in the bazaars and

in the streets of Afghanistan’s towns and cities are all represented

in Miller’s show. The photographs were made in 1967 and 1968 when

he and his wife, Kathie Miller, were working as Peace Corps


teaching English at Kabul University.

"A lot of these pictures I had never printed before. But a lot

of the film I processed, made contact prints, and filed away for 30

years," says Miller today. "You know, life goes on.

"It was a shock to me to discover how many of these photographs

were focused on people, more than anything else, these are photographs

of people."

Despite Afghanistan’s grim recent history, Miller says he and his

wife have been pleased to find that Americans are beginning to learn

about Afghanistan and its culture. Since the Soviet invasion of 1980,

Afghanistan has endured 22 years of guerrilla and civil war, but


remembers it during a period of stability and cooperation.

"It was a quiet place," he recalls. "It was a bazaar city.

Everything was arranged in clusters of bazaars, very quiet and calm.

There were no guns or any feeling of violence. Basically, it was a

remote mountain kingdom."

The Afghans of the 1960s were not hostile to the young Peace Corps

worker with a camera. "I was young, and just starting to


he says. "I was fascinated by the place and the people. This began

what has continued for me: my camera is kind of like a notebook, it

records the life around me.

"The Afghan people are ferociously independent but also hospitable

in a way that’s hard for us understand. This is one of the country’s

traditions, it’s part of the Pashtun code to treat guests


This hospitality was so extreme Miller says it could sometimes become

uncomfortable. "We were told from the outset in the Peace Corps,

`Don’t admire something or your host will give it to you.’"

"We all had a sense that we were living in a society that was

15th century or 14th century — a way of life that was so foreign

to us, so different — it was a unique situation to be in that


Miller’s favorite photographers, then and now, include Americans Helen

Levitt and Walker Evans and the French master of the portrait shot,

Henri Cartier-Bresson.

"I use a wide angle lenses, so to get a good picture I’ve got

to be up close. I could speak enough Persian then to explain what

I was doing. I was really right in their faces. It’s my style and

I began to develop it then. My subject wasn’t just an object. I


them like a person, chatting and learning a little about them —

to the extent that they wanted to talk."

"That’s really what I like to do. I like to be really close to

people and I like to talk to them." Miller says this year past

he shot about 30 rolls of lack and white film on the boardwalk at

Seaside, New Jersey. "I discovered that Eastern Europe comes to

the boardwalk to work every summer. It was fascinating and I like

the interaction."

Afghan society was fairly open in the 1960s. At the King’s birthday

party, for examply, the couple found themselves about 10 feet from

the king. "The poverty then was not as desperate as it is now,

but they certainly weren’t rich. This was life without electricity,

running water — without clean water — there was a lot of


Retired three years ago, Miller chooses the word


to describe a wide-ranging career that has taken him around the globe.

His wife, Kathie, had served in the Peace Corps in Ghana for two years

before the couple met in graduate school at Columbia University. She

was studying to become an English teacher; he was studying Slavic

languages and literature. The couple married in 1966 and joined the

Peace Corps together. In fact, their Peace Corps training began a

scant 10 days after their wedding day.

After Afghanistan, Miller came to graduate school at Princeton, where

he earned a Ph.D. in Russian medieval history. And the couple stayed

put. Miller became an international banker with Chase Manhattan Bank,

working in its African division for 10 years, and over the years he

has commuted from Princeton to New York, Africa, and London. Kathie

Miller taught English as a second language when the couple lived


and for many years in the Princeton Public School system and at the

Princeton Adult School.

Miller is a member of the board at the newly renamed Montgomery Center

for the Arts in Skillman and an appointee to the Stonybrook Regional

Sewer Authority. His passion for fishing and love of travel took him

to Kamchatka, Russia, last year. His also writes the newsletter for

Trout Unlimited.

Miller’s exhibit includes photographs of Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley

and of the pair of giant Buddhas, built in the second or third century

A.D., which were destroyed last year by the Taliban. These were the

original colossal Buddhas, modeled on the traditions of Roman and

Byzantine art, and upon which later Buddha statues were modeled, says

Miller. In the 1960s, when Miller saw them, the figures’ faces had

already been sawn off by Moslems, but they were nonetheless a magnet

for visitors.

Miller says he also has a good shot of buzkashi — the


horseback sport that involves capturing a headless calf from a pole.

He also took pictures of the sport of `tent pegging,’ in which a man

on horseback tries to lance a wooden peg. The sport comes from a


maneuver in which warriors would collapse the enemies’ tents on top

of them before attacking.

"When the Russians invaded, my wife and I looked at each other

and said, `My god, they have no idea what they’ve done.’ Afghans are

ferocious warriors and they don’t like foreigners — a lot of them

don’t even want foreigners in their country. Those of us who had lived

there understood that they’d fight to the very end."

"After the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan began to fall into the

category of a rogue state because we all abandoned it," says


"It suffered a massive shock to its social systems under the


kids weren’t being educated in the same way any more and the cult

of war grew. I was in Peshawar, Pakistan, in 1993, and I was shocked

to find that there were Afghans everywhere — in the streets,


shops. The Soviets killed a lot of the middle class, but those that

could get out fled."

— Nicole Plett

Afghanistan, Before, Gallery 14, 14 Mercer Street,

Hopewell, 609-333-8511. Opening reception for an exhibit of


taken during the late 1960s. Also opening, "Floral


black-and-white photographs of flowers by Jay H. Anderson. Gallery

14 is open Saturdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 1 to 5 p.m., for

both shows that run through February 3. Friday, January 11, 6 to

9 p.m.

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Art in Town

Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street,


Robert Justin’s solo show "Man at Work," an exhibit of


artwork made of recycled materials. To January 30.

"As a boy I roamed the town dump seeking the scraps of society

which I made into toys," says Justin. "Today my workshop is

in the midst of a junk/scrapyard flea market where unusual reusables

abound. Treasures are chosen because of their unusual texture, shape,

or sheer numbers and the mystery they exude when combined together

and reborn.

Marsha Child Contemporary, 220 Alexander Street,


"Facing the Truth: The Art of the Portrait," an international

group exhibition of paintings, drawings, photographs, and prints by

more than a dozen artists from Europe and the U.S. To January 12.

Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Numina Gallery, Princeton High School, Moore Street,


Mel Leipzig, paintings and studies, a show curated by students. All

profits from sale of works go directly to PHS art programs. Open


to Friday, 3 to 5 p.m., and by appointment. To January 14.

Triumph Brewing Company, 138 Nassau Street, 609-924-7855.

"Artista Cuba," contemporary Cuban folk art from the


of Jorge Armenteros who has been studying and collecting Cuban art

since 1996. Works from the fine art world as well as rustic art made

of found materials. "At its best, Cuban folk art is vivid,


sensual, and inspiring. In it, you will find a purity of appreciation

for light, color, and life’s simple pleasures," says Armenteros.

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Campus Arts

Art Museum, Princeton University, 609-258-3788.


of Stone: Roman Sculpture in the Art Museum" and "Pliny’s

Cup: Roman Silver in the Age of Augustus;" to January 20. Open

Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Free

tours of the collection every Saturday at 2 p.m.

Firestone Library, Milberg Gallery, Princeton University,

609-258-3184. "Not for Myself Alone: A Celebration of


Writers," the debut show for the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Collection

of Jewish-American Writers that ranges from the early 19th century

to the present day and includes Yiddish-language writers as well as

writers in English. A two-volume catalog accompanies the exhibition.

Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and

Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To April 21.

The exhibit includes manuscripts, such as a draft of a poem by Stanley

Kunitz, letters by Hannah Arendt, Nathanael West, Clifford Odets,

Lionel Trilling and Susan Sontag, and photographic portraits of the


Princeton University, Firestone Library,


In the lobby: "Ukiyo-E: Japanese Woodblock Color Prints,"

showcasing masterworks of the art of Japanese prints by such masters

as Utamaro and Hokusai. The show includes instruction on how Japanese

papermaking, drawing, woodcarving, and printing served this art. To

January 31.

Princeton Theological Seminary, Erdman Hall Gallery, 20

Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Making Paths," paintings by

Ley Breuel, a Princeton artist who comes to painting from a career

in design and illustration, most notably with Walt Disney Design.

Her interest is in representing paths of human life "some replete

with roots, fear, stumbling stones, steep climbs; others alive with

peace, compassion, comfort." Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday,

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Reception is January

16, at 4:30 p.m., for the show that runs to February 1.

Area Galleries

Firehouse Gallery, 8 Walnut Street, Bordentown,


"Giant Exhibit of Miniature Art," annual show featuring more

than 200 works by 25 artists including Florida artist Peggie


Gallery hours are Wednesday 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday mornings,

and by appointment. To February 1.

Montgomery Center for the Arts, 1860 House, 124 Montgomery

Road, 609-921-3272. "A Collection of Festive and Celebratory Art:

A Retrospective Show of Works by David Raymond." Raymond, who

died last year, was a Princeton resident and an early member of the

Princeton Artists Alliance. Show runs to February 10. Upstairs


"Seeing Eyes on the Environment," photographs by students

of Rock Brook School in Skillman, to January 31. Gallery hours are

Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.

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Art In Trenton

Extension Gallery, 60 Ward Avenue, Mercerville,


"Wear It," a show of wearable art by Atelier faculty and


Open Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To January 31.

Grounds for Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton,

609-586-0616. Fall/Winter Exhibition. Open Tuesday through Sunday,

10 a.m. to 9 p.m., year round; Sunday is Members Day. Adult admission

is $4 Tuesday through Thursday; $7 Friday and Saturday; and $10


Annual memberships start at $45. To February 24.

New Jersey State Museum, 205 West State Street, Trenton,

609-292-6464. "George Washington and the Battle of Trenton: The

Evolution of an American Image," an exhibition that documents

the historic context of the American Revolution, the "Ten Crucial

Days" of the Trenton campaign that was the turning point, and

the subsequent commemoration of George Washington’s heroic image by

American artists. To February 24.

Also "Images of Americans on the Silver Screen," to April

14. "Art by African-Americans in the Collection," to August

18. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.;

Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Website:

On extended view: "New Jersey’s Native Americans: The


Record"; "Delaware Indians of New Jersey"; "The Sisler

Collection of North American Mammals"; "Of Rock and Fire";

"Neptune’s Architects"; "The Modernists"; "New

Jersey Ceramics, Silver, Glass and Iron."

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Art by the River

ABC Gallery, Lambertville Public Library, 6 Lilly Street,

609-397-0275. "Little Windows," an exhibition of acrylics

on paper and canvas by Sharon Nieburg. Open Monday and Thursday, 1

to 9 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday 1 to 5

p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To January 12.

Tin Man Alley, 12 West Mechanic Street, New Hope,


"Mars-Barr," a shared show featuring Chris Mars’s brooding

figures and Glenn Barr’s voluptuous lounge lizards. Website:

Gallery hours are Thursday to Monday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. To January


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Area Museums

Zimmerli Art Museum, George and Hamilton streets, New

Brunswick, 732-932-7237. "The Baltics: Nonconformist and Modernist

Art During the Soviet Era," the first major survey of modernist

art produced in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania during the post-World

War II Soviet period. The show features 150 works from the Zimmerli’s

Dodge Collection produced in reaction to communist repression. Show

continues to March 17. Also "St. Petersburg, 1921," to March

10. $3 adults; free to students and children.

Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;


and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission $3 adults; under 18 free; museum

is open free to the public on the first Sunday of every month.


tours every Sunday at 2 and 3 p.m.

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Off-Broadstreet Theatre seeks men and women who can sing

and dance for the musical revue "Stardust." Auditions are

Saturday, January 12, at 5 South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell. All roles

are paid. Call for appointment at 609-466-2766.

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Volunteer Call

The Bucks County Writer, a quarterly journal featuring

articles about and by area writers, published by the Writers Room

of Bucks County Inc. (a non-profit), seeks a project volunteer with

organizational and marketing skills to refine and formalize its



Estimated need is six hours a week for three months to: develop


with vendors, cultural institutions, and other outlets (marketing),

and to introduce an efficient system for keeping vendors stocked


and delivery). This person could work mostly from home, and would

have the backup support of the Writer’s Room office and staff and

willing volunteers. Call 215-348-1663, or email Foster Winans:

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Participate Please

New Jersey Theatre Alliance offers a free calendar listing

the spring theater season statewide, as well as its theater discount

package, consisting of three plays at three theaters for $60. Call

973-593-0189 or go ro

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Call for Entries

Women’s Heart Foundation Craft Show and Festival is


entries from artists and crafters for its May event at Washington

Crossing State Park, Titusville. To enter, submit three slides


of works to be shown. Deadline is March 1. Call 610-687-8535.

Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street, seeks

submissions for its 14th edition of "Underage," an anthology

of short stories and poems from children under the age of 18.


deadline is March 15. Call 609-924-8777.

Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street, seeks

crafters, artists, food and merchandise vendors, nonprofit


and local performers for Communiversity 2002 to be held on Saturday,

April 27, from noon to 4 p.m. Deadline for applications is April 5.

For an application, stop by the Arts Council or call 609-924-8777.

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve provides full-time paid

internships to qualified students wishing to learn about native plants

and public gardens. The program begins in May or June and runs for

10 to 15 weeks. Call 215-862-2924.

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