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Let's Go Crawlin'

Article Published: Dec. 2, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Let's Go Crawlin'

Watercolor by Joe Miller.

Lights and winter greenery mean Christmas is on its way. Artists and downtown merchants hope you'll fill your stockings with culture this holiday season, and they're giving you the perfect opportunity Friday, as the Downtown Boone Art Crawl kicks off its December installment with toasty beverages, music and, as always, art.

This Friday, "Cheap" Joe Miller is leading the charge, with a watercolor series at the Jones House (604 W. King St.), inspired by the city that's supported his business, Cheap Joe's Art Stuff, for more than 20 years.

"What a wonderful place," he said. "Everywhere you look up here is a painting. You just have to do it ... It's in our Mountains, our atmospheres, the foggy mornings, the misty mornings. We really have four seasons here."

It was his obsession with watercolors that led to Cheap Joe's.

"If I was traveling and saw a painting and it was a watercolor, I would think, 'I can do that, it looks so simple,'" he said. "That's when I picked up a brush and learned that I couldn't do it."

At least not without lessons. That's where the supply business came in.

"The supply business came out of desperation to try to find material less expensive, because ... you'll have to use about 500 sheets of watercolor paper before you can call yourself a water colorist," he said.

Instead of spending $5,000 to $6,000 on paper (the going rate at the time), he started a business at Boone Drug, where he was a pharmacist.

"We put a few art materials in the drug store, and it kind of outgrew the drug store, so we moved to the industrial park and rented space from the Watauga Democrat," he said.

That was in 1990. Five years later, he purchased his own spot in the Watauga County Industrial Park and has been there ever since. A Charlotte store later (added four years ago), and it's the making of an art empire.

Miller's work will be exhibited at the Mazie Jones Gallery. The Open Door Gallery showcases the work of Cheap Joe's Art Stuff's employees.

"About a third of the people who work here are artists," Miller said.

Expect watercolor, gouache, acrylic and photography. An artists' reception happens from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and it's just one of many events kicking off the holiday season at Friday's Crawl.

Art Crawl Roundup

Hosted every first Friday of the month, Boone's Art Crawls see area galleries and businesses open their doors in celebration of art and culture.

Art of Oil, 222 Howard St., a tasting gallery for gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegars, will have a wine tasting with dessert. Expect new jewelry by designer Laura Fly and new photographs by Ciara McCaig. Art of Oil will also take 15 percent off your gift basket order.

641 rpm, 691 W. King St., is hosting a show at Black Cat Burrito (127 S. Depot St.). Rock out to the sounds of Marion-based Us Christmas ( and Boone-based Head Cleaner. The show is 18+ and starts at 10:30 p.m. Expect a $5 cover charge.

Open Door, 703 W. King St., will welcome shoppers to stop by and take advantage of the 15 percent off sale on all items.

Modern Rustic, 182 Howard St., will host a reception entitled "Contemporary Craftsmanship at its best, old, new and used." See how concrete, metal and wood are used to create unique, functional items for the home.

Vidalia, 831 W. King St., will showcase its new wine specials.

Art Walk, 611 W. King St., features the work of husband and wife potter team Fred and Debbi Rust of Gastonia. Expect functional and food safe pottery, built or thrown using a variety of stoneware clays and opaque, earthy glazes, including tan, reddish brown, green and blue.

Doe Ridge Pottery, 585 W. King St., hosts Kate Colclaser, making her ceramic trees.
Murphy's Restaurant and Pub, 747 W. King St., gets things rocking later in the evening with performances from Cletus Baltirmore and the Mantras. Expect a cover charge.

Lucky Penny, 693 W. King St., is hosting an "Another Feather" jewelry show with designs by Hannah Ferrara, who you may recognize from "The Today Show." Expect handmade winter hats by ASU student Ashley Noble. It all happens from 7 to 10 p.m.

Antiques on Howard, 199 Howard St., No. 1, will have refreshments with their art.

Gladiola Girls, 549 W. King St., continues its Judith March Madness event. The dress designer's creations will be on sale, courtesy of a coupon you can print out from the Gladiola Girls' Facebook page. The coupon allows customers to buy one and get the second at 25 percent off through Dec. 1. Additionally, the Wish List is back. A customer can create a Wish List and their "Santa baby" gets 15 percent off anything they purchase from the list.

Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, 423 W. King St., will open two new exhibitions: "In the Void" but sculptor David Meyer and "The Hemlocks! The Hemlocks!: Grief and Celebration" by Lowell Hayes.

Pop Up Gallery (a one-time event at the old Army-Navy Surplus building across from Espresso News on Howard Street) will have two classes from Appalachian State represented. A screen printing class and a photography class will share the space from 6 to 10 p.m. The show, entitled "The Digital Negative," will show contemporary and classic photo methods like digital prints and cyanotypes merged in mixed media works.

Other regularly participating galleries and businesses include beansTalk, the Nth Gallery, Boone Saloon, Capone's Untouchable Pizza, Mast General Store, Macado's, The Collective on Depot, the Downtown Boone Post Office, Green Mother Goods, Cafe Portofino, Hands Gallery, Downtown Boone Development Association, Boone Drug, Cha Da Thai, Ink Link Tattoos, Our Daily Bread, Earth Fare, Bead Box & Grateful Grounds, Jungle Boogie, Harmon's Dixie Pride, Paolucci's Italian Bar and Grill, Koncepts Hookah Lounge, the Shoppes at Farmers Hardware, Footsloggers, Shear Shakti, MC Adams Clothier, Anna Banana's, Play It Again Sports, Char, Looking Glass Gallery, Fat Cats Music & Video, and The GreenHouse.

The Downtown Boone Art Crawl lasts from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., though shops typically close at 7:30 p.m. The monthly event is sponsored by the Downtown Boone Development Association Public Art Program. For more information, call (828) 262-4532 or visit

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