Whether you are just dropping by or have been hanging around this newsletter for a while and wondered where we went, let’s get you caught up on what has been happening with Miriam and her art in 2023.
First, we are particularly grateful for collectors from Aubrey TX, Philadelphia PA, Birmingham AL, Fairfield CT, Jackson MS, Tacoma WA, Dublin CA, Staten Island NY, Tuscaloosa AL, Kalamazoo MI, Decaturville TN, Washington CT, Cleveland OH, Brooklyn NY, and Montecito CA who purchased Miriam’s art over the last month. Thank you!
Second, newer readers may want to wait until the next newsletter before making a decision on whether or not this email will be valuable to you. In future emails we’ll look at Miriam’s new and existing art in depth, her personal thoughts on painting and drawing, upcoming opportunities to see her work in person, and any other relevant news.
Miriam spent 2020-2022, like the rest of the world, dealing with Covid and health-related issues. If she wasn’t fighting Covid, recovering from Covid, dealing with a fall, having hip replacement surgery or recovering from it, then she was moving from her home of 50 years in Alabama, adjusting to a new life with family in Tennessee, and having an addition to her son’s home (that’s me, Frank) built for her.
These are the times that try men’s souls! By Divine mercy and strength, she/we made it through this dark and difficult “winter” of change with a “limp” but in a better place for the future.
Her art is still in storage from the Birmingham move to Tennessee because construction costs rose so sharply during the pandemic that we needed to choose between building additional living space for Miriam in our home or a permanent art studio storage. We chose the living space — a decision that has made all the difference in our family’s sanity and health. That left our wonderful plans for a dedicated art studio/storage on hold for some distant time.
Moving the art from her home studio in Birmingham to Tennessee after 50 years was no easy task. Thanks to Miriam’s grandchildren and their spouses we managed to make the trek with a large moving van and lots of cardboard. Miriam’s grandsons magically fit her art into a single van and safely delivered them to our home on Cumberland Plateau.
There we found a climate-controlled storage unit large enough to house her works, and have been slowly, methodically going through all of Miriam’s art over the last 70 years. It is a significant body of work dating all the way back to the mid-1940s (Miriam saves everything!). This process includes organizing, labeling, sorting, photographing, digitizing, and logging her extensive body of work into an electronic catalog. There are probably around 2000 plus pieces of art we are working our way through, taking about one hour total per piece.
Miriam and I head over to the art storage several times per week when the weather is good/she feels up to it and go through art. The rest of the time is Miriam painting/drawing/writing (plus all the other things you deal with at 87 like doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, etc.), and me doing all the business stuff that comes with cataloging, managing, and selling art online through Instagram, Etsy, and her website.
We had been sticking to this pattern of artwork as best we could until March 2023 when Miriam’s grandson, Noah, and his wife graciously came one Saturday to shoot a video for TikTok (yes, the one that the United States government wants to ban). As a multi-media communications major in college, he wanted to see if he could help get his grandmother’s work out of storage and to a wider audience.
I tried putting Miriam’s work on TikTok before and…crickets. I’m in my early 50s, and despite being a professional web designer for the last 20 years, how to be effective on that specific social media platform escaped me. So, I thought, why not? They could not do any worse than what I did previously.
They shot the video in less than an hour and edited it in a couple more and posted it on TikTok. Within just a few days it went viral and now has over 353K views and over 62K likes. We were shocked, stunned, excited, encouraged, and overwhelmed by the incredibly positive and helpful responses received.
A few days later we posted a slightly modified version of the same video on Miriam’s Instagram account. After two weeks it also went viral, this time with over 5 million views, 600K likes, and 30K new followers. This is probably how many of you still reading this email found your way here.
All this attention has led to a significant increase in awareness and sales of Miriam’s art and opened the doors for future art-related opportunities that we did not have in terms of national exposure and marketing partnerships. Further, the sheer volume of things (sales, people interactions, demand to see more work, ideas, etc.) has shown us how woefully inefficient and lacking many of our art business practices are, and how we need to get a clearer focus on what our purpose is with Miriam’s art collection. That’s a work in progress we will share more about in future emails.
There are many, many great artists alive today who create in relative obscurity. They will likely never have this type of opportunity to have their work seen by so many people and to receive the encouragement and attention that Miriam has been given through this viral video moment. We are grateful for the support of folks on social media, collectors, friends, and family, both new and old, and wish that every artist could have this experience.
And now some questions we want to answer that came from the video:
Why is her work in storage?
See the explanation above. It comes down to Covid, plus a move to live with family, plus very high construction costs moved made us decide to keep her work in storage (for the time being).
Why don’t you contact a gallery and have an exhibition?
Several traditional and non-traditional galleries and businesses have reached out to us to show Miriam’s work. We are evaluating each to see if they are a good fit for what we want to do with her collection. A “good fit” for us at this time are national or regional level exhibits, shows focused on specific aspects of her collection, and academic institutions where Miriam has lived or studied in the past.
Why hasn’t she sold her work over the years?
Miriam has sold her work for decades. You can find it in individual collections, churches, and businesses nationally and internationally.
Why are you not selling her work?
We are! You can purchase her original work through Miriam’s website here:
And our Etsy store has reproductions and digital downloads here:
Why don’t you donate her art to a museum or charity?
Museums have to have room for more art and want what you are donating. Same for a charity. We feel that Miriam’s work is valuable and she should be compensated for her craft the same as any other professional. There are some pieces that we would be interested in donating to the right museum or institution under the right circumstances.
Why don’t you keep the originals and only sell reproductions?
We have always felt that art needs to be shared with others to achieve its greatest impact. While we offer many reproductions of her work on her Etsy store, we want the originals to be purchased and viewed as well.
We hope you will stay with us for a little while as we explore Miriam’s art and her life as an artist.
Thanks for making it with us this far!
Frank & Miriam