Corrections or additions?
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
"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
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,
"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
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
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
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
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
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
"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.
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.
"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.
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.
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
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
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.
"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.
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.
"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.
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.
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: www.njstatemuseum.org.
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."
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.
"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
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.
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.
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:
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 www.njtheatrealliance.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.