Miller IDS’s Featured Artist this month is Lynn Kessel. As a child, Lynn played with art extensively, encouraged by her artist father. However, college and a business career took her time and attention and it was twenty years later before she heard the call and took up a brush again.
Also changing career paths, Lynn returned to school for her Master’s degree and is now a Counselor working with at-risk youth in Williamson County, and has been instrumental in successfully infusing art into the program.
Lynn prefers watercolors and acrylics, primarily painting the flora and fauna she finds near her Georgetown home or on her travels. Her bright colors and tight focus bring the natural beauty of her subject directly to the observer. Her images appear on multiple gift items and her paintings are sold through the Artisans Connect Gallery in Georgetown and she exhibits her work annually at the Georgetown Red Poppy Festival in April. Her website is www.lynnkesselart.com.
This month, we are especially proud to highlight the work of Don Collins, whose beautiful artwork has graced our annual calendar for each of the past 38 years! This decades-long process of calendar design began over coffee when Robert Lambie Miller expressed dissatisfaction with the commercial calendars then available, and suggested that Don do something on a more local level. The result was well received, hence the 38-year tradition. You may recognize the featured work “Noah Cox House, Roma, Texas” from the cover of our 2016 calendar.
Don has traveled the back roads and long-deserted main streets of Texas for years, searching for unique images reflecting a Texas that existed in the past. His inspired drawings and paintings breathe life back into the old homes, courthouses, shanties and industrial sites he finds.
Raised in rural Parker County, Don attended NTAC and Texas Tech before army service during the Korean conflict, completing his final year at UT Austin. Settling in Austin, Don was an active commercial/easel artist for 52 years, serving a broad array of clients, including architects, builders, NASA contractors, publishers, state agencies, and many others. As a painter, he participated in scores of venues throughout the Southwest, initially depicting wildlife, and later broadening into character studies, landscapes, and historic/vernacular architecture. Still active at a somewhat more relaxed pace, he welcomes commission work, and is at the board daily, doing art for the sheer pleasure of it. Don has also co-authored the popular book, Traces of Forgotten Places: An Artist’s Thirty-Year Exploration and Celebration of Texas as It Was. Don has produced more than 300 works for our calendars, allowing us to share his passion for our state with our customers. Additional work and contact information are available on his website.
This month, we’re pleased to feature the work of Hugh Miles, a well-known and well-loved Austin artist. Many of us are familiar with his “Old School Hangout” shown here, a beautifully rendered and evocative piece which pulls the viewer right into the picture. Hugh’s work clearly communicates the mood of his subject; in his music oriented paintings, you can almost hear the melody!
Hugh showed early promise as an artist, winning a fine arts award for a drawing submitted through his local Boys Club in Knoxville. However, his life outside the Boys Club was challenging and he struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for several years before getting help. Several years sober, he now volunteers at his church and at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, reaching out to help others achieve the happiness he has worked hard to attain.
Together with other talented artists, Hugh Miles will be exhibiting at the 23rd Annual Art from the Streets Show & Sale at the Austin Convention Center December 5th and 6th. The always-popular show is an excellent opportunity to view the work of little-known artists and purchase their art before they become better known and higher priced! All proceeds go directly to the artists.
As Miller IDS produces print and fine art reproduction work for many local artists, we are proud to support both Big Medium’s 2015 East Austin Studio Tour and the associated Due East fundraiser, as well as last season’s West Austin Studio Tour. Austin has so many talented artists and artisans creating fine work and we are happy to help them showcase their art.
This year’s East Tour is happening over two weekends, November 14/15 and 21/22, so you have plenty of opportunities to participate. It’s a free, self-guided event and you can pick up a catalog and map at any Austin Public Library starting November 9th.
Our Featured Artist of the month, Flip Solomon, will be showing her work at the Canopy creative work space and studio on the tour – we hope you stop by to see her!
This month, we are focusing on Flip Solomon, an Austin artist of many dimensions. Classically trained in graphite, she now works in pen and ink, acrylic, watercolor, batik process, jewelry and embroidery.
Flip was raised in New England, and received early artistic training at Hartford Art School and Massachusetts College of Art and Design, before finishing her degree at the University of Texas. Her interests in anthropology and travel are apparent in her art, as much of her work focuses on other cultures and both human and animal anatomy.
Flip currently works and shows in Canopy, an East Austin creative space. Her work, as well as that of the other artists sharing the space, will be a part of the East Austin Studio Tour.
Dreams are Flip’s primary inspiration for her art. Afflicted with narcolepsy, she has frequent REM cycles both day and night, which allow her to dream more than most people. She has trained herself to draw in dream states, which not only helps to ground her, but produces beautiful and deeply personal art. The “Fennec Foxes” featured here was inspired by her late mother, for whom fennec (desert) foxes served as a spirit animal.
You can view and purchase more of Flip’s creativity on her website, but we encourage you to visit Canopy on the East Austin Studio Tour and to drop by either Miller IDS location to see the ‘Fennec Foxes” print.
We are very proud this month to feature the photography of Ali Khataw, an accomplished entrepreneur, photographer and philanthropist.
The Central Texas business community knows Ali Khataw as the founder of Encotech Engineering Consultants, Inc. a leading engineering firm specializing in MEP, Structural, Civil and Transportation Engineering. However, Ali is also an avid artist and adventurer and is increasingly known for his insightful photography, which not only documents his extensive travels and experiences, but reflects the socioeconomic issues of the countries he visits and helps direct help to those issues through Photo Philanthropy. In Ali’s own words:
“My desire to help others and use art to make a difference has inspired me to delve into the world of Photo Philanthropy. Images have an undeniable power, and I want to harness that power and use it to better the conditions of living for those in the world who are not lucky enough to enjoy the luxuries many of us have been blessed with. By means of non-profit organizations and charities, all the proceeds from this website will benefit those in need around the globe.”
Ali regularly donates his photographs to auctions supporting local charities as well and his photography website (www.khataw.com) is based on the concept of encouraging charitable contributions. All proceeds from his photography are given to organizations dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others. The stunning image featured is from Ali’s visit to Namibia. He notes, “We stopped at an abandoned Ghost Town in Kolmanskop. I saw a good composition through one of the broken windows. With a little assistance from a friend, I was able to climb into this abandoned house. The desert sand finds its way into these abandoned houses through open doors and windows. Driven by the enormous wealth of the first diamond miners, the residents built the village in the architectural style of a German town. The town declined after World War I when the diamond-field was slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954.”
Published in National Geographic Magazine (2014), Ali’s work has also been featured in multiple galleries, exhibitions and the homes and offices of many lucky Austinites. Current list of Photography Exhibitions/Shows in Austin:
Monkey Nest Coffee Shop: July 2011
Serengeti Coffee at AIA Austin: April 17 –May 31, 2013
Lifescapes at Gallery at the J: March 3 – April 15, 2015
Faces of Humanity at the Asian American Resource Center: April 6 – July 31, 2015
A proud resident of Austin for more than 30 years, Mr. Khataw, his wife, Nahid Khataw, and their two children, Zain & Salva, are dedicated to making their community a strong, sustainable, family-oriented place.
As an Austin family-owned business, we are especially pleased this month to highlight a member of another Austin family-owned business: Strait Music!
Irene Strait, who partnered with her husband to build Strait Music, was a self-taught artist. She started painting as a young woman but gave it up as her family grew. Once the kids were grown, she began painting again, mostly in oil. The Strait home is full of her art and many of her paintings also hang in other lucky Austinites’ homes.
Extremely prolific in her last years, Irene did not let her illness (COPD) stop her, finishing her last painting just a few weeks before she passed away last year. Her family was amazed at Irene’s desire to keep creating. She would dream about what she was going to paint, sew or needlepoint and she would wake up ready to get at it. Switching to water-based oil paint due to her sensitivity to fumes didn’t slow her down or faze her either. Nothing could interfere with her creativity or enthusiasm!
Irene’s passion for the creative arts clearly shows in this beautiful painting of a dancer, Flamenco, and the piece pays tribute to the 63 years that she and Dan danced together through life.
For June, Miller IDS turns its monthly Featured Artist focus on Chris Celusniak, a true storyteller through his intricate artwork. Chris’ art shows a hidden depth of stories within stories that come together to create the whole picture. The eclectic works derive their form from patterns, improbable vintage, and a world of endless color. Viewers look into the canvas and find the intimate spaces within the larger whole, to read the narrative of its inhabitants, each with a story to tell. Chris works to create a window on a feeling that both he and the viewer may share.
Recognized with multiple awards, Chris has exhibited across the country. The native Texan was born in Houston, is a member of the San Antonio River Art Group and now lives in Austin with his family. We will have a print of Chris’ Austin-Texas hanging in both our downtown and north stores for the month of June and hope you’ll come by to check it out and/or visit his website to see more.