“It’s my life”… Introducing Tiki Artist, Woody Miller
Growing up in the western Sierra foothills of Grass Valley, California, Menehune Design Group artist, Woody Miller, didn’t have much exposure to anything tropical. In fact, it was seeing a Hawaiian shirt at a local thrift store as a teenager that first sparked his imagination. For him, Grass Valley was devoid of culture and seeing the shirt represented a place, climate and way of life far removed from his own that appealed to him. Unbeknownst to him, this little spark of interest would later develop to become his life.
Woody began his art career, he says, “drawing in the timeout corner as a child”. After studying art in San Francisco, Woody began illustrating children’s books and doing landscape paintings. Though a true passion, navigating the world of publishing as an illustrator detracted from Woody’s passion until it simply fizzled out.
Seemingly out of the blue about eight years ago, Woody needed to make a tiki mug. Never before had he, but it was a personal and creative impulse he needed to fulfill. And it turned out he really enjoyed it! So he continued following this impulse by making more tiki art. Not long after this, a friend invited him to Tiki Oasis (“the original and largest tiki event in the world”, according to their website) where he found his tribe among the other tiki enthusiasts and began selling his art. 8 years ago he had his first solo show at Creative Framing & Gallery in Oakland. Fast forward to now – this summer marks the 7th anniversary Tiki Art Show “Tales of the Tropics”, curated and hosted by the same gallery, and now showcasing the work of more than thirty artists from all over the world! In 2017, he joined Menehune Design Group, a tight-knit Oakland based Pacific Pop artisan group, founded by Kyle Milligan and Susan Casentini, that hand makes “groovy goods for the home” in the Pacific Pop style.
Whether at home, at the Menehune studio in Uptown Oakland or at a tiki event, Woody’s love for all things tiki only continues to grow. For him, it’s his life. He loves the “chill”, inclusive tiki community, the unique creative expression of all who gather for tiki events, and the transformative escapism atmosphere that it fosters. Learning about the Polynesian cultures and history is important to him in his work as a tiki artist. The history of the natural, spiritual and exotic along with the ties to the earth speak to him, and he loves adding a new twist to his tiki art with bright colors. While he says he doesn’t have a particular style, his creations continue to be sought out by tiki lovers everywhere who recognize and love his unique products. Some tiki-phile’s even have custom tiki bars in their home (perfect for Covid!), many designed and installed by Woody himself! What a path from seeing that Hawaiian shirt in Grass Valley all those years ago, to finding his life’s passion through tiki art.
“Tales of the Tropics” is this summer’s tiki art show, running from June 27th through August 22nd at Creative Framing & Gallery in Oakland. The next and last reception is Friday, August 7, 6-9pm. As always, all are welcome (though only 6-8 guests at a time) and all are encouraged to wear their best tropical mask while social distancing and having FUN!
Enjoy more of Woody’s work: http://www.woodymillerart.com/