pastel life

Submitted by Susan Miller on Sun, 04/06/2008 - 21:06.

At first we thought he was a little wacky. Later we knew he was totally whack. My brother Stephen Kirby Miller passed away alone in his home somtime in late October 2007. Above and below are some of his artworks I just happened to be perusing this evening.

These pastel drawings followed many years of making photographs - printing them first in silver and platinum, but more often as gum bichromate prints. What we learned is that he began to lose his vision. He had a disease called keratoconus. The cornea's collagen is depleted and the cornea begins to sag causing blurred vision. The spray paintings and the oil pastels were more "how he saw" in later years.

My older brother, Stephen Kirby Miller, died alone in his home in Tallahassee, Florida in late October 2007.

On the first weekend in July 2008, we will oblige his request for disposal of his remains - putting his cremains into the Apalachicola River so they can flow to the sea... You all will be, of course, invited to join us at the River... "remember me" he has said with his beautiful work - oh the volume of it all!!!

I will post more in the coming weeks and months...

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The River

We all belong to the river and no one really dies alone.  Your brother saw the river.  Take me to the river.

Please accept my

Please accept my condolences. I feel almost mesmerized looking at your brother's art. They seem very powerful and spiritual. I look forward to seeing more in the future.

Rivers and Tides

The Andy Goldsworthy film was well-received by the second-graders.

my big brother

Stephen Kirby Miller was born Dec. 23, 1947, in Athens, Ohio, to Wesley and Mary (Bailey) Miller.

He lived in Nagoya, Japan; Rome, New York; Shalimar; and, since 1968, in Tallahassee, where he died Nov. 5.

A man of remarkable range and knowledge, he was a photographer, cabinet and furniture maker, home designer and builder, chef, and recognized authority on the work of George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff.

Stephen was a graduate of Florida State University, holding a bachelor of fine arts, and a lifelong student of history, music, philosophy, and Garrison Keillor. His work was selected for exhibits at the Eastman Kodak Gallery in Rochester, NY, and Le Moyne Art Foundation in Tallahassee. A life work was the design, building, and cabinetry of the singular Pyramid House in Wakulla County.

Though he contended that no one was original, he was. Those who knew him were rewarded, in perpetuity or in the moment, with gifts of sui generis gum prints, photographs, and chalk drawings; furniture inspired by the Shakers and reinterpreted by his artistry; domestic objects such as lamps, cutting boards, and tea trays whose utility he honored and whose woods he lived and loved; important, sometimes uncomfortable insights; wry and silly humor; the example and teaching of his craftsmanship in any endeavor he undertook; and incredible invented meals. He was an avid bird watcher who interacted with the birds that visited him daily.

Stephen is survived by his partner of 12 years, Ellen Ashdown, of St. George Island; sisters Marabeth Farmer, of Apalachicola, and Rindge, New Hampshire, Susan Miller, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Deborah Berman, of Toronto, Canada; and nephews Seth Farmer, Jonathan Farmer, and Mickey Bowen.

For information regarding a celebration of Stephen’s life and an exhibit of his work to be held in Tallahassee in the summer of 2008, you may stephenmillermemory [at] earthlink [dot] net or call 603-899-5629.

The photo (gum bichromate print) is a portrait of Stephen's second wife, Janet Falciglia. The photo was taken in haste as we packed and moved the contents of his home into storage. I now have the haunting image in my home.

I guess we always knew he would see differently than others... and that he would be creative. All my life, I was pressed by his challenges and his creativity. I was his student while in college in Tallahassee and there was little respite. Always there were big questions about life. I was reminded of my brother and our studies when I saw the title of the upcoming show at Kokoon Gallery - "In Search of the Miraculous". The book by that title by Peter Ouspensky and “Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson” by Gurdjieff were our texts.

My brother's ultimate sadness, loneliness and despair led him to die alone. He had driven everyone away with his sharp criticism. The woman from the sheriff's office said, it looked as though he laid down across the bed to rest. He never got up. It was weeks before someone discovered him there and called us. He was plagued by the students who lived loud and obnoxiously around him. Despite many calls to police and sheriff’s offices, he could do nothing to allay the late night loud parties and the trash on the street. He could no longer work because of severe rheumatoid arthritis. Many days he could barely hold a coffee cup. I had helped him to purchase an enlarger so that he could print old negatives. I was worried about him using the table saw and other wood working tools he had in his shop. He had been mean spirited and had acted badly in his relationships with people, but he had also repented mightily.


My initial anger is subsiding and perhaps this is bargaining. I miss him, but I am also glad that his suffering has ended. For having looked through his lens, I am forever changed. So much for innocence…

As We Believe, So Shall We Live...

For you and your brother, may he rest in peace... new life will come from death
Love will come at leisure
Love of love, love of life
And giving without measure

Gives in return a wondrous yearn
Of a promise almost seen
Live hand-in-hand
And together we'll stand

On the threshold of a dream....


c/o The Moody Blues