The Savannah community will long remember the huge smile and the quirky personality of local artist Arthur “Artie” Milton who blessed us with laughter and his artistic talent.
Arthur “Artie” Lee Milton was born January 7, 1953, to his late parents Dolphus and Iris Milton, in Savannah, Georgia.
Artie attended Gadsden and DeRenne Elementary Schools and was a 1971 graduate of Alfred E. Beach High School. After completing high school, Artie went to work with his father at Union Camp (now International Paper Company). He married the late Phyllis Patterson in 1972 and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked as a salesperson for his great-uncle at E. T. McClendon and Sons.
He later entered the Savannah College of Art and Design and became the first male in the first graduating class in 1982 with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. Celebrating the Life of: Arthur “Artie” Milton
He received his Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland.
Artie returned to Savannah and was employed at Savannah College of Art and Design for over 30 years in various capacities, including Assistant to the President, Richard Rowan. That position allowed him to travel to China, London, Brazil, Argentina, California and New York.
His Christian experience began early in life when the Reverend Jeremiah Benton baptized him at Tremont Temple Missionary Baptist Church. As a young man, he served on the Usher Board. He demonstrated his God-given artistic talents at many church events. His art served as an inspiration to the members of the congregation, especially to the youth.
“Artie,” as he is affectionately called, began portrait painting on River Street during the Captain Sam era. He has painted many Savannahians as well as tourists who visited River Street. For the past five years, he has sketched many portraits of attendees at the Annual Savannah Black Heritage Festival. One can find his works in many homes and local establishments throughout the Coastal Empire and around the country.
In 1986, Attorney Benjamin Eicholz, the late Reverend Bennie R. Mitchell, Jr., and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Day Committee commissioned
Artie to paint a portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr., to be displayed at the entrance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Arena of the Savannah Civic Center. The portrait was dedicated at the 1986 MLK, Jr. Celebration, making Arthur “Artie” Lee Milton the first African American artist to have his works displayed in a municipal building in Savannah. In 2016, the MLKing, Jr. Observance Day Association honored Artie with the MLKing Legacy Award and the City of Savannah placed a plaque at the entrance of the arena of the Savannah Civic Center, commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Dedication of the M.L. King, Jr. portrait. Artie was recognized for his achievements, some of which are too numerous to mention. In 2009, Artie received the Spirit of Excellence Award presented by Stella Productions. In 2016, Artie was honored as “Artist of the Year,” at Telfair Museum’s Second Annual Juneteenth Celebration and in February 2017, he received the Coastal Jazz Association’s “EXCELLENCE” Award. Artie lost his battle with cancer on Friday, March 24, 2017 at Hospice of Savannah. He was preceded in death by his son Keenan Milton, a brother Dolphus Milton, Jr., and nephew Anthony Milton. He leaves to cherish all of his memories: two proud sons, Peter Williams (Crystal), Dayton, OH; Kenya Milton, Brooklyn, N.Y.; one daughter, Khadijah Milton, Atlanta, GA; two loving sisters, Patricia Shuman and Tanya Milton-Thomas (Walter) both of Savannah, GA; two sisters-in law, Diane Milton, Pembroke Pines, FL, and Mary Milton, Jacksonville, NC; one brother Herbert Milton of Miama, FL; two nieces who assisted him with his health needs, Tracey Shuman and Mesha Currie, Savannah, GA; and five other nieces, Annette Milton, Lisa Milton, Laura Mc- Coy (Anthony) Jacksonville, NC; Kaneesha (James) and Vanessa Walton, Pembroke Pines, FL; one special nephew George Milton (Christana); six grandchildren; and a host of cousins, church family, SCAD family, ILA Local 1414 family and many friends. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at Tremont Temple Missionary Baptist Church, 1110 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Bynes Royall Funeral Home are in charge of the services.