Friday, April 19, 2013


Contemporary pottery based on the historic art of whiskey vessels will be paired with watercolors by beloved Tipp City artist Roger Haas for an exhibit at Bear's Mill through May 26. This edition of “Art At the Mill” will open with an artists' reception on Friday, April 26 which will include a presentation at 7 p.m. by Missy Duer of Staley Mill Farm outlining the connection between Roger Haas and her family's historic farm, the subject of the paintings on display. Additionally, potters Julie Clark, Rita Wiley, Loretta Wray, and Dionne Fleming will discuss their work at this gathering where light hors d'oeuvres and wine will be served; reception hours are 6 p.m. till 9 p.m.

Bear's Mill is also collaborating with Staley Mill Farm on a fundraising event to benefit both historic locations. “Mills and Stills” on May 4 and May 18 will include tours of both sites, food, music, and tastings from the Staley's Indian Creek Distillery. Tickets are $35, and can be purchased at Bear's Mill and Staley Mill Farm, 7095 Staley Road, New Carlisle.

Missy Duer is a descendant of the pioneers who established Staley Farm in 1818; still standing on the site are Ohio's oldest grist mill, a sawmill, a Federal-style farmhouse, and the remains of an old distillery, all of which were subjects of paintings by award winning watercolorist Roger Haas, who died in 2007. The undisturbed beauty and rustic charm of the Staley property attracted the artist who produced hundreds of paintings capturing this timeless rural landscape. Missy has acquired many of those paintings documenting her heritage, and is eager to share their story.

Staley Farm's Indian Creek Distillery where rye whiskey is being made in original 1820 pot stills revives the practice of distilling whiskey on the property, and provides the theme for the pottery in this exhibit. Clay artist Rita Wiley says that just as the making and sharing of high-quality whiskey is a communal experience, the designing and making of these whiskey vessels has been a shared adventure between the potters. One model influencing her pieces was an empty, discarded, yet shapely 1.75-liter Jack Daniels bottle she discovered following a wedding reception.

The round, flat canteens used by characters in old westerns and war movies provided the inspiration for Loretta Wray's whiskey vessels. “For me, the canteen represents a thirst or a longing to be quenched,” said the Indiana resident. She also states her belief that whiskey can serve both good and bad purposes, but that the beneficial medicinal qualities of alcohol have been recognized since ancient times. In honor of those qualities, she used symbols related to medicine on her work.

From the beginning stages to the glazing and soda-firing, Dionne Fleming found pure joy in creating pieces for this exhibit, although she says that it was also a time-consuming and exacting process which provided a constant challenge. The buhr stones at Bear's Mill were the inspiration for designs she carved on some of her pieces.

Resident Bear's Mill artist Julie Clark states that living and working at the historic site is a catalyst for her work. “The turn of a wheel, rust collecting on old gears, silver gray boards, six over six windows, water flowing – all serve as inspiration,” Ms. Clark said. Her whiskey vessels have historical references, but also express her own aesthetic goal of creating rustic pieces with a minimalist modern structure.

“Art At the Mill” has received funding from the Ami McClurkin Community Fund, held by the HOPE Foundation of Darke County, and also receives support from Darke County Endowment for the Arts. The art exhibit is on view during regular Mill store hours, 11 a.m. till 5 p.m. daily. Historic Bear's Mill is operated by Friends of Bear's Mill, a non-profit organization, and is located at 6450 Arcanum-Bear's Mill Road about 5 miles east of Greenville. For more information about the exhibit or to purchase tickets for “Mills and Stills,” contact Bear's Mill at 937-548-5112 or

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