Cherished Friends in the Art Community

Some of the great benefits of being involved in the community of artists and art-materials manufacturers are the friendships we establish. Our lives are enriched by the members of the art organizations we join, the collectors who acquire our work, the people we stand next to in workshops, the teachers who educate us, and the individuals who manufacture and sell the products we need. Those are the folks with whom we share a joyous, satisfying, purposeful experience while creating art, and those are the people who best understand why we are excited about that experience.

Among the art-material retailers who are valued friends of thousands of artists is Joe Miller, the owner of Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, in Boone, North Carolina. Joe will celebrate his 70th birthday on February 17, 2009, and I am one of the thousands of people who wish him well and thank him for the support he has offered so many of us.

As you probably know, Joe was a pharmacist who took an interest in watercolor painting and started selling a few art supplies in a corner of his store. Gradually that corner expanded to become an international retail, mail-order, and online business of art supplies and workshops. The one aspect of the business that never changed is the personal attention, fairness, and humor that Joe instills in every aspect of his company’s operation. His annual catalog is filled with family photographs, jokes, anecdotal remarks, and paintings, as well as helpful information about products. Joe supports dozens of juried art shows, educational programs, and conferences. His lectures to local, state, and national art groups are always informative, humorous, and inspiring.

Of course there are many other art-material retailers and manufacturers who provide valuable assistance and support to practicing artists, and I’m sure you have developed friendships with a number of those people. I’m also certain you recognize the contributions made by other friends who offer support, motivation, direction, and companionship.

I invite you to say “thank you” to the friends, such as Joe Miller, who have enriched your life and made it possible to create and display your artwork.

M. Stephen Doherty

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M. Stephen Doherty

About M. Stephen Doherty

I've been interested in art since I was a child,  and I was fortunate to be able to take Saturday art classes at the Cincinnati Art Museum from the time I was 9 years old until I finished high school. I majored in art at Knox College and graduated summa *** laude, Phi Beta Kappa (proving artists can use both sides of their brain!).  I then earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking from Cornell University; taught art in public schools, a community college, an adult education program, and a college; worked in the marketing department of a company that manufactured screen printing supplies; and was hired to be editor of American Artist in January, 1979.

Thomas S. Buecher introduced me to plein air painting and it immediately became a passion of mine because it got me outdoors and allowed me to continue learning when I traveled to judge art shows, attend conventions, give lectures, and interview artists. Over the years I've exhibited my paintings at Bryant Galleries in New Orleans, Trees Place Gallery on Cape Cod, and in a traveling exhibition titled From Sea to Shining Sea.

I've written 10 books on artists and art techniques and contibuted articles to magazines, websites, and exhibition catalogs. Now as I prepare for semi-retirement, I'm trying to hone my painting skills -- especially those related to painting portraits.

I've been very fortunate to have met thousands of talented artists who have enriched my life with their art, their friendship, and their advice. I am grateful to Jerry Hobbs and Susan Meyer who hired me in 1979, to the talented people who worked with me on the magazines, and to the artists and advertisers who supported American Artist, Watercolor, Workshop, and Drawing  magazines and the related websites.

I've also been blessed with a supportive, talented wife, Sara; a daughter, Clare, who works for an insurance agency; a son, Michael, who is a computer enginner in Austin; a son-in-law, Shawn, who can fix and carry anything; a granddaughter, Amanda, who has me wrapped around her finger; and my mother, Dotty, who has advised and encouraged me from the beginning.

6 thoughts on “Cherished Friends in the Art Community

  1. Years ago, when Southern California was suffering from the horrible fire storms, I received an unexpected post card from Cheap Joes Art Stuff. The post card expressed concern about the situation in a lovely way, and then offered to replace any art products which may have been destroyed in the fires. (Luckily, I had not suffered any damages.) So a big thank you to Joe Miller and his gang – a very happy birthday wishes! Melinda Greve

  2. Steve, I agree. As one who has been involved in art events for over 30 yrs., the relationships we develope are important to us on many levels. Having done many outdoor festivals in Florida, (as well as group watercolor exhibits across the country) before backing off due to illness, one of the things I miss is the comraderie of my fellow competitors, some of whom have become true friends. No one understands an artist better than another artist.

  3. Enjoyed reading this about Mr. Miller. I promptly ordered a catalog from his store! Willwoff: I agree wholeheartedly with you: No one understands an artist better than another artist. So true. And now that I am exploring my first love – art – I am beginning to make new friends that share my passion. Well said.

  4. What a nice tribute to someone so special in our art community. Yes, I want to join in and Thank You Joe, for providing me, and other artists, for supplying us with quality supplies and art material knowledge!

  5. I certainly agree with your sentiments totally and cherish all the friends I have made in the art community. My husband writes serious music and we have met many in the music scene that are wonderful human beings. I am glad that most all the creative people I have been with in whatever medium they work are giving and helpful. Here’s to all those who try to build nurturing communities.

  6. Steve, couldn’t agree more about your comments about the value of Joe Miller to the art community.

    Another that deserves mention is Sharri Schmidt in Memphis, TN. Sharri’s Discount Art Supplies has for many years provided the students at Memphis State and the Mid-South art community with fine art supplies at the best price available. (If she doesn’t have something you need, she says “Try Cheap Joe’s”)

    Sharri has been known to buy the stock of a failed art store and resales it to her customers at a great discount.

    Because Sharri believes in Barter, she has a great collectiuon of landscape paintings by artists that she helped out as they started their career.

    It’s the support of fine folks like Joe Miller and Sharri that make this jouney all the more pleasurable.

    Laurin McCracken