John and Elli Milan


John and Elli Milan met in Hawaii while Elli was still in high school and John was "beach bumming". Deciding early to make a career as artists, they enrolled at Savannah College of Art and Design and later transferred to the University of Georgia where they received their BFA in painting. It was in this small, but vital city, that the couple developed personal styles and began showing their work in local galleries. After graduation the couple worked independently, but began dreaming about working together.

Today, they live their dream, and the Milans create their painting together. Although John and Elli were both accomplished artists on their own, this collaboration brings out a side of their work that neither could reach by themselves. The couple says that the Spirit of God inspires their work and allows them to create together and maintain a unified vision. The end result is aggressive and spontaneous layers of paint, which create a bright and playful scenario that is interwoven with hints of narrative.

The Milans have traveled extensively to Greece, and these trips have inspired their artwork and life. A facination with contemporary buildings, built around old ruins and the visible layers of history, have become a metaphor for the way the Milan see spiritual transformation in themselves and the people around them. Like these ancient cities, our lives are complex; as we grow and progress, the new slowly replces the old. yet we are often nostalgic for our old selves, rather than looking forward with great expectation to our destiny. One of the Milan's dream is to establish a permanent studio in one of Greece's beautiful coastal cities.

The Milans and their four children live in Queen Creek, Arizona. Their home studio is prolific and open year-round. The Milans are well-established artists, with careers that have seen their work in galleries and private collections in Canada, Europe, the United States, the Philippines and Dubai.

Their uniqueness lies in the cohesiveness of the finsihed product and that together they can do what neither one could do alone. The process begins with the artists planning the painting together and building the surface by incorporating John's drawing or embossed metal. Then, Elli intuitively maps out a composition and lays down the colors, pulling out various narratives. John then receives the piece and further pulls out the narrative elements and makes creative adjustments. the piece is passed between the couple, repeatedly critiqued, and finally John completes the painting by developing the color and adding layers of whimsical imagery.

The Milans most popular paintings to date have been abstract cities. This series has evolved over time. The inspiration behind these pieces stems from the couple's many trip to Greece, where the Milans noticed how modern buildings were built around ancient structures with great care. The milans liken this idea to the human soul and our tendency to stay nostalgic for the past, rather than looking forward with great expectation to out destiny. This year's series' are titled "Five-Fold Profit", "Residual Monument", "Metro Port", "Urban Threshold", and "City Movement".

Perhaps the most unique painting in the Milans collection this year is "Warrior". This painting is of a Western child who stands in her father's combat boots, contending for a bright future for the children in the East. This painting was inspired by the compassion John and Elli feel for the impoverished children in Africa.

John and Elli are passionate about "giving back" to their local community as well as the global community. Elli is a board member of Change Point Inc., and has traveled extensively with this organization, working in countries from Philippines to Mexico. During her travels she meets with talented, local artists who lack business skills and she provides ideas and training that will help them earn money through their art. Together, John and Elli meet weekly with artists in their community to encourage them to make art their vocation. The couple has founded the Gateway Artist Guild, a non-profit venue for artists to come together, build community and support one another.