Expressive creatures and distinctive places by Dan Miller
● By J. Chambless
Dan Miller’s prints are so well done, so confident and so richly colored that it’s easy to overlook how labor-intensive each one is. With backgrounds that capture the natural wood grain of the plank he’s working from, Miller painstakingly produces each large image with sometimes seven or eight different passes through his press, aligning each color until the works resemble watercolors, not woodcuts.
Miller’s new exhibit at Bookplace in Oxford is a great overview of his distinctive work. It continues through April 14.
He nods to the ancient roots of the technique in several portraits of Japanese masters, such as “Hokusai Pointing Toward Fuji,” and he delights in stretching to boundaries of printmaking while incorporating all the natural textures of his materials.
His birds – as in “Uncommon Bird,” “Burning Bright” and “Full Moon Under” -- have a sly, sideways glance that expresses whimsical character. In “Seeking Fish,” the predator has the same cartoonish expression as the prey.
His series of Maine coastline scenes – such as “Summer Shore,” “Western Island Above Dunes” and “Sally Island Through Trees” – are instantly likeable, deftly capturing the hues of green and gray against the gray-blue water. His “At the Sands” captures a splendidly gnarled old apple tree, and it’s one of the show’s highlights.
In terms of detail, it’s hard to beat “Wasp,” a vertical composition of the insect on a stalk, with every detail of its wings and body meticulously rendered.
Miller’s colors give a remarkable tone to the gallery space -- gray and green and bursts of vivid hues that are both cohesive and distinctive. You’ll want to spend time admiring the places and creatures he captures – and then pondering just how he accomplishes this magic.
“Creatures and Features,” by Dan Miller, will be on view at Bookplace (2373 Baltimore Pike, Oxford) through April 14. Hours are Friday from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Call 717-715-4775 or visit www.bookplaceoxford.com.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email firstname.lastname@example.org.