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The Artistic Journey of Joe Miller: A Cross-Border Exhibition Highlight

ArtSpring, in collaboration with Salt Spring Arts and SJIMA, is exhibiting a collection of work by San Juan Islands artists from April 21st through May 24th, at the ArtSpring Gallery, Salt Spring Island, BC, in the first of two cross-border exhibitions. The second installment will feature Southern Gulf Island artists at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art, September 22nd - December 4th, 2023.

This blog series explores the work of the San Juan Island artists currently exhibiting in the first of these cross-border exhibitions.



SJIMA is pleased to present Joe Miller, one of the six exceptional artists from the San Juan Islands, showcasing his remarkable work in Canada for the first time as part of the inaugural cross-border art exhibition, Archipelago: Contemporary Art of the Salish Sea.

A fine artist whose journey began with an affinity for pastels and mechanical drawing, Miller has evolved into an accomplished oil painter. His passion for fine arts was first kindled in high school and further nurtured during his time at the University of Notre Dame. He refined his skills and technique at the University of Utah and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, leading to a lifelong career in painting that started with his first oil painting in 1959.

The landscapes of Moab, Utah initially served as his muse, and his artistic journey later led him to San Juan Island in 1983. Miller’s work echoes his profound connection with nature, each painting a sublime testament to his love for the environment he inhabits.

Miller's impressive art portfolio, displayed in both solo and group exhibitions across North America, includes striking pieces such as "Tree Think", "Salish Seascape", and "Cumulus". The past decades have seen Miller’s work receive significant recognition. From local galleries to international museums, his art has traveled, always leaving viewers in awe of his talent and technique.

His work is not just visually engaging but has also earned him several grants and residencies, including a notable Artist-in-Residence program at the Arches, Zion, and Bryce National Parks sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. Miller’s works have been immortalized in various collections, publications, and films, further cementing his status as an esteemed artist in the field.

Abstract oil painting on linen with predominantly orange vertical lines in the center, purple edges on the right and left, and sea blue horizontal dashes running vertically on both left and right borders.

Tree Think, 2019 Oil on linen 55″ x 60″

Abstract oil painting on linen, predominantly orange with an abstract mountain shape represented by a line in the lower third of the canvas.

Salish Seascape, 2013 Oil on linen 55″ x 49″

Abstract oil painting on panel with blue background in the upper third, a black square with vertical sword-like structures running through it from an orange rectangle in the bottom third.

Cumulus, 2015 Oil on panel 40″ x 32″



As a young child, Joe Miller watched his mom draw with pastels in soft blues, pale earthy yellows, and dry reds. As a teen, he loved his high school’s only art class: mechanical drawing. In college, Joe enrolled in Fine Arts.

After schooling, Joe moved to Moab, Utah. He painted and drew out in the desert and in his studio in town. During that time, he traveled a bit to NYC and San Francisco, seeing shows of paintings at galleries and museums. From contact with the artist Alan Gussow, he received some grants and shows.

Joe met Dana Roberts, married and in 1983 moved to San Juan Island. They moved into a cabin in the forest, where they both painted and lived. Eventually, they enlarged the cabin into two separate studios and then built a small separate home on the property, where they still paint and live.


1971-72 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MS, Painting

1961-64 University of Utah, BFA, Painting

1957-60 University of Notre Dame, Fine Arts

Joseph Miller: Up Fossil Canyon

Miller explains his technique for 'Up Fossil Canyon', a work he prepared for the 2020-2021 Artists' Registry Exhibition at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art.

Explore Joe Miller's work in greater depth on his website by clicking here.

View Miller's 2015 SJIMA Exhibition, UNLIKE EARTH:


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