Thursday, August 19, 2010



On July 31st BEET GALLERY in Portland, Oregon closed it's doors. After waiting 2 years for a solo show that should have been in October, I had the opportunity to be part of a two person show the first 2 weeks of July. I was glad for the opportunity to show in this gallery even for a short period of time and to get a little better acquainted with Sandy Japel, the owner. It was a solid show for me and a good way for my work to be seen by a different clientele other than the outdoor crafts market venue in which I have participated in the past....ART IN THE PEARL and the now discontinued ROSE ART FESTIVAL.

This is a difficult economic time for galleries and artists. It's hard to watch so many galleries struggling and some succumbing to the strain.....having to close their doors. For me it means a time to dig in....tighten the belt...try to keep the creative juices flowing even when work does not sell as quickly as it used to. Throughout history artists continue to make art in difficult times.... the strain informs the art and makes an appearance on the canvas or in the sculpture and certainly in the poem. I also think that the challenging economy gives us (artists) an opportunity to seek out a new model....a new way to present our work....having to look beyond our comfort zone. This past year I felt compelled to get off the road and not do the outdoor craft show market anymore. The risks started seeming too great...large booth fees....having to travel further and further from home base....crazy weather patterns, etc. Having done the outdoor craft market for almost 20 years I have many times felt like a compulsive gambler....hoping the next show will help pay for the last show. It can be a crazy making environment. I also have to say that in that same 20 years I have had my share of really incredible shows....but those successes seems few and far between these days.

Seeing my boxes on the wall at Beet brought some things to the surface that I've been feeling for a long time. Mostly it stirred up in me the feeling that I would like to step up to a new level with my work... possibly stepping out of the craft market and into a fine art venue with the boxes. That would require, on my part, work that is somewhat larger, bolder and one of a kind. In the past I have been making limited edition pieces but that won't fly in a fine art venue. It is possible that I would still have limited edition work in craft galleries. While in Portland I went around to five of the blue chip fine art galleries with my dear friend and fellow artist, Lin Haak. She is always encouraging me to be bold and to step up. I just wanted to walk into these spaces and try them on for size and fit and see if I could imagine my work hanging on their walls. I am often intimidated by fine art galleries. I was surprised to find that I felt comfortable in the spaces and can now have a visual image of carrying my work through the front doors into my top pick of the five. Once I have a new body of work built up I will begin the process of finding a good fit for myself. This is an exciting time for me....challenging, yes....but there are some good things waiting just around the corner. My work now is to just keep showing up ....for me....for my art....for my life.

Friday, August 13, 2010


This is a copy of the article that was published in the PENINSULA DAILY NEWS just prior to our Artist Studio Sale held in July.


Shane Miller stands next to the 1952 Farmall Cub tractor she uses to mow the rustic acre that surrounds her house and barn, where she and four friends are holding their second annual midsummer art sale this weekend. -- Photo by Jennifer Jackson/for Peninsula Daily News

But turn off the main highway into town at Fredericks Street, then left on Otto, and follow the winding road past Nimba Forge and down the hill, and you'll find yourself in a rural enclave tucked between the town and business park.

And on the edge is Shane Miller's place -- that's her barn you'll see on the left before you round the corner at the bottom of the hill.

Pass the life-size figures of a man, woman and a coyote dancing, and you'll be at Miller's drive, where you will be greeted by Gunther.

Gunther is a crocodile, rampant, who holds Miller's mailbox in his claws.

He is just one of the creatures that grace her rural acre, where the animals roam free and the art is in the barn.

The animals are silhouettes that Miller created during her 12 years as a metal sculptor, doing large outdoor pieces.

She's graduated to smaller pieces, which she crafts in the barn, built as her work space.

Last year, she invited four artist friends to join her in holding an art sale in the barn, an event they are repeating this Saturday and Sunday, June 26 & 27.

"It's the perfect setting for bringing in the summer," Miller says of the property, which is bordered by woods to the north.

"There's definitely a country feeling."

More than 300 people came to last year's sale, where they were welcomed with lemonade and homemade cookies courtesy of Miller's friend Carrie Ehrhardt, principal of Port Townsend High School.

Ehrhardt is again setting up the refreshment stand for the event, which will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, and people are invited wander the property, dotted with old apple trees and resident animals.

Each has a name, including Thorndyke Major, the canine in the picnic area.

Miller didn't realize when she created metal dog silhouettes that they would evoke emotional responses.

"Almost every single one was bought as a memorial dog for someone," she said.

"People would come into my booth and be crying. They'd say, 'We want to look out in the garden and still see the dog.'"

Thorndyke Major is a clone of a sculpture that Miller sold to a woman who wanted the original, Little Dan, for the grounds of a home she and her son were buying back East.

Viewing the property, they discovered a glen of trees in back, and in the middle of the trees was a tombstone with the name "Thorndyke Major" on it.

The name turned out to be that of the former owner's dog, a Great Dane.

"Little Dan is now lord of the animal garden," Miller says.

Miller, a former kayak tour guide in Baja California, moved to Port Townsend and bought her house in 1998, which she describes as a "fixer upper for the rest of my life."

On the back porch is a black lab named Silas, who faces the arbor topped with metal crows.

There is a white fence topped with animal figures, originally the walls of her craft fair booth, and a patch of giant butter burrs screens an outdoor claw-foot bathtub.

There's also an old shed, and the barn, which is only 10 years old, but built to match one that Miller saw on a farm near Poulsbo.

She named it GreyBird Barn after a vintage toy zeppelin she saw that had the name "GREYBIRD" painted on it in red.

The idea of naming the barn after a zeppelin, which hovers over the earth, appealed to Miller.

"I believe there is a lot of power in words and especially in the name of something," Miller said. "GreyBird just seemed to fit my barn."

She also has a 1952 pickup truck, and mows her acre with a 1952 Farmall Cub tractor, nicknamed "Bliss," because that's what she feels when she drives it.

Miller is also a '52 model -- she was born in Hot Springs, Ark., where her grandmother had a florist business that she started on her side porch.

It was passed down to her children. Miller's mother, who inherited the business, worked there from the age 16 until her death three years ago at the age of 86.

Called The House of Flowers, it had the contract to supply all the flowers for the Hot Springs horse racing track through the season, Miller said.

The biggest event was the Arkansas Derby, which required gardenia corsages for the 300-plus women who worked there, and rose boutonnieres, 600 to 700, for all the men, from the stable boys on up.

"For derby week, Mom would call all the chickens home," Miller said, referring to siblings and family members.

"A whole crew of cousins and aunts would sit down and sew the horse blanket for the winner with hundreds and hundreds of gardenias."

The idea for a communal art sale originated with Miller and Linda Jarvis, a painter, assemblage artist and sculptor.

They invited Diane Gale, Beverly Saito and Lynn Anju to join them.

Gale does wood-fired ceramics and glazed pottery for kitchen and home, including tea pots and vases. Saito makes beaded jewelry and sculptural ceramics.

Anju, a jeweler, was not able to participate this year, so Shirley Moss, who makes silver chains, is filling her spot.

The GreyBird Barn art sale is held in conjunction with Diana Cronin's studio sale featuring six ceramic artists on Egg and I Road in Chimacum.

For last year's sale, the barn took on a life of its own, Miller said, as if the purpose for which it was built was happening.

"The big payoff was that it was so much fun," Miller said. "We have great camaraderie. We enjoyed hanging out for two days and getting to know each other better."


For several weeks I've been meaning to post just a few images from our 2nd Annual Studio Sale at GreyBird Barn in Port Townsend, WA. This sale took place on June 26th and 27th. The weather was glorious....the home baked cookies delicious....the company of my fellow artist friends was endearing....a good time was had by all. The week of the sale an article about me, GreyBird Barn and my property was published in the paper. Many people came from surrounding areas to see what all the ruckus was about....some carrying a folded copy of the article under their arm to give to sweet! My next blog post will be the article. Enjoy these images and remember that you can view a larger version by clicking on the image.

The artists of GreyBird Barn: (from left to right) Shirley Moss...hand made sterling silver and gold chains, Shane jewelry, narrative boxes and boats, Beverly Saito...beaded jewelry and sculptural ceramics, Linda Jarvis...mixed media paintings, sculpture and assemblages, Diane Gale...wood fired and glazed pottery.

Sculptural ceramics by Beverly Saito.

Paintings and assemblages by Linda Jarvis.

Shirley showing her hand made chains to a customer.

A couple of Shane's boats.

Diane's ceramics with Shane's jewelry in the background.

Shane with Morgan Brig....a friend and phenomenal metal artist.

Big smiles....a lot of camaraderie....that's Kristi in the middle, our friend and great helper and supporter of this event.

An overview....that's Bliss, my tractor in the foreground.