As an Arizona State University student in the 1970s following a master’so diploma in fine arts, ” Gilbert photographer Neil Miller turned into a chance encounter with Arizona’s outlawed motorcycle gang to an odd relationship.
This month, he will exhibit the item of that relationship together “The Dirty Dozen” if he opens a series of the photos he shot of the gang’s ordinary life.
A 1975 article in Phoenix New Times explained the Dirty Dozen as a group that dominated country highways for 30 years until some members eventually switched over to the Hells Angels.
“Unkempt and crazy, with a fearsome reputation endorsed by criminality, the Dirty Dozen has been Arizona’s preeminent bicycle club and wouldn’t allow other clubs to operate from the Grand Canyon State without its permission,” the article said.
Miller’s function will be on screen in “The Dirty Dozen” from Dec. 16 to Feb. 10 in Gallery 4 situated in HD South, House of the Gilbert Historical Museum. Gallery 4 is curated by Alan Fitzgerald, owner of Art Intersection in the Heritage District.
Miller’s experiences using The Dirty Dozen ranged from charging down switchback-filled streets to the subtle relationships between members and the girls who travel together.
“Stay difficult and die young is what it was going. The fact of this lifestyle turned out to be accurate,” he also composed.
Miller was 30 if he fulfilled with the gang.
“It was a celebration and that I had been photographing parties for several years. At the moment, I was just working to add to an ongoing photography project. However, after a night outside in the forest north of the Grand Canyon, I knew this would be a long-lasting encounter,” he also composed in his artist statement.
“There was a few on the very first run I moved, however it became apparent once the members got to know me, everything went very nicely,” said Miller. “it turned out to be a closed set but, once accepted, easy to get along with. I had been riding motorcycles for over 10 years after this opportunity came up, so it fit my interest.
“I discovered that when You get past the social liberty and the take-it-or-leave-it attitude, you find the club to be a household just outside to enjoy life on their own terms,” said Miller, adding:
“Most members were still hard-working, taxpaying men and women who invested their off time socializing and riding tricked-out, two-wheeled vehicles. Along the way, this life led to bumping into rules, regulations and the many risks of living big. ”
Miller’s photos, a few in black and white and a few in colour, depict the rocky club members in their machines etched against the both demanding scrub soil and mountainous backdrop that is Arizona’s outside.
Close-ups reveal that the long-lived, tattooed and leather-clad guys searching for another adventure than what routine life in town attracts.
Miller used various techniques to record the group riding: He put up his gear from a high vantage point and shot several pictures from the rear of a pickup truck and others from a rented airplane.
“However I discovered riding on the rear of a bike was the ideal strategy,” he said. “I had been accustomed to taking photos while riding my bike and using two hands available let me shoot quicker without fretting about where I was going.
“One of the greatest shots was taken pointing the camera backwards over my head: I probably wouldn’t do this now. ”
Miller functioned 39 years as a news photographer in Channel 10 and murdered from 2009.
Retired or not, photographers aren’t far removed in their gear.
Miller’s lens now focuses on street photography. Earlier this season, he was in Eastern Europe, and now, he’s in India doing what he loves most.