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A world of 'Small Creatures' at Bookplace

11/16/2015 12:50PM ● Published by J. Chambless

'Night Listening Hawk'

Gallery: Dan Miller [6 Images] Click any image to expand.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

Dan Miller's woodcuts have a warm, handmade quality that makes “Small Creatures,” on view at Bookplace in Oxford through Dec. 5, a welcoming destination.

Against backgrounds that show the grain of wood planks, Miller creates the natural world – a knothole becomes the sun, and swooping wood grain becomes banks of clouds or ridges in the earth. The birds depicted here range from slyly stylized (the owl in “Above Flowers” and the “Uncommon Bird” seen in several works) to realistically rendered depictions that have a fine, subtle use of color.

Strong moments in the large show include the two spindly-limbed bats in “Two By Night,” the poised mouse in “The Small” and the deceased blue jay in “Fallen Sky.” There are intriguing little moments as well, such as the dragonfly zeroing in on its prey in “I Will Catch,” the pattern of thick snowflakes in “Owl and Snow,” and the gentle, uplifted posture of a caterpillar on a branch in “Journey.”

In “Above the Fish,” there's a sly expression on the bird peeking into a stream, but even the fish seem happy to be there. Miller toys with scale as well, making the tiny struggles of ants into heroic gestures in “Antics.”

The rich textures and deft use of color make these prints – each very limited and laboriously produced – a great gift for nature lovers, art collectors or yourself. The exhibition of 40 woodcuts is nicely presented, and the work has a gentle spirit that's a reflection of Miller's supreme skills.

“Small Creatures” continues at Bookplace (2373 Baltimore Pike, Oxford) through Dec. 4. The book store and gallery is open Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Call 717-529-6618 or visit www.bookplaceoxford.com.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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