A Friday Night Out w/ Bucky Miller

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Bucky Miller a.k.a Bucky Timothy Leo David Miller (his parents kept legally changing his name until he was two, which he just recently found out) is fresh out of the ASU Art School but is by no means a new face to the Phoenix art scene.

The young and ambitious photographer recently hosted an opening reception for "Practically Everything", at Modified Arts.

The show, which features a collaboration of photographic works by local artists, was curated by Miller, and included his recent series "Catalogue of Meteorites." I caught up with Miller that night, (alright fine, I snuck up on him) and asked if I could tag along for the rest of his Friday night. Here's how it went down ...

The Meet Up

The evening started toward the end of Bucky's opening reception at Modified Arts. Other featured artists on display at "Practically Everything" include: Christian Widmer, Cory Fitzgerald, Dana Buhl, Michael Lundgren, Michael Max McLeod, Nidaa Aboulhosn, and Mike Williams.

The reception is supposed to end at 9, but Bucky leaves the doors unlocked as he gradually closes up shop, pausing between chores to talk with the occasional after-hours visitor. He explains to them that the title, Practically Everything stems from an ongoing conversation between the artists, "and the pictures themselves, " as Bucky will tell you. It's a conversation about the duality of photography; how a photograph not only chronicles, but also converts, whatever it captures.

One of Bucky's friends stops by, Jason Roehner, a fellow photographer, who's work was recently on display at Eye Lounge. "A really unique thing about Bucky," Roehner tells me, "is how he acknowledges that this show is just part of an ongoing conversation about photography. So many people have this attitude of it being final like, 'oh so and so did this, so it's done.' Fact is, we're not the first and we're not that last."

At 10:45, foot traffic has finally seemed to stop. Jason says his goodbyes and Bucky and I make our way to Crescent Ballroom to meet up with his friends, all of them featured artists from the show.

The Company

The local music venue is packed. Kongos is playing on stage inside, but the six of us: Bucky, Mike Lundgren, Nidaa Aboulhosn, Dana Buhl, and Mike Williams, and I make a spot for ourselves on the patio and continue to discuss, what else, photography.

I explain to Bucky that he doesn't have to carry on these deep, intellectual conversations about art, just because I'm here (and feverishly writing down everything he says and does) but Mike Lundgren, photographer, friend, and one of Bucky's first professors, jumps in and says that Bucky has always been this passionate about photography; always to eager to learn, to discuss, to explore the genre.

Bucky notices that beside himself, many other photographers he knows, including half of the group, are all avid skateboarders. He starts to wonder about the connection there, pointing out that when he goes out looking for things to shoot, it feels oddly similar to when he used to go out skating. "First we're looking at the world and seeing how we can make it adaptable to a board, and now we're looking at the world and adapting it to a picture," he says.

After and hour or so, the group parts ways. Half of us head to a going-away party for some mutual friends moving to San Francisco. I follow Bucky as we drive to Arcadia and park behind a drool-worthy mid-century apartment complex designed by Al Beadle.

It's a low key, high-brow gathering. There's a small but eclectic group of artistic intellectuals, lounging on Copenhagen furniture, sipping wine and snacking on small bites, some of Trader Joe's finest.

Despite his youth, Bucky Miller seems to have already placed his foot firmly in the door frame of the upper echelon of the Phoenix art world. No beer kegs, solo cups, or forgotten nights for this guy. In fact, Bucky doesn't have a drink all night. He's too busy making his way around the room, saying hello, asking about upcoming projects, and only really talking about himself if someone asks.

Between stories of predatory New Mexican prostitutes, the history behind his many names, and constant musings on photography in our everyday life, (he admits, critiquing people's profile pictures on Facebook has become his new hobby) a conversation Bucky Miller can contain "Practically Everything," adding value to the idea that it's not so much where you go, but who you go with that makes for an interesting night.

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