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Joe Miller, Owner of Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, to Speak at High Country Writers


By Jess Kleean

On Feb. 9, 2017, Joe Miller, the current owner of Cheap Joes Art Stuff, will be the featured presenter at High Country Writers. Joe, whose modest roots began as a pharmacist at Boone Drug, has changed the world of watercolor through his passion for the art and his creative spirit. Miller, a signature member of the American Watercolor Society and recipient of its 2006 coveted Dolphin Award (for his generous philanthropic works on behalf of all water media artists and their societies) will be presenting his one-person performance of With a Warm Handshake, a play that he wrote and has performed across the nation for the last thirty years.

With a Warm Handshake tells the story of Theo Van Gogh, the brother of world renowned artist Vincent Van Gogh, who supported Vincent and his struggling career, his entire life. Joe was drawn to Theo after attending a Van Gogh exhibit held at the MET in 1986 and began writing the play soon after. Additional interest came later when he read The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh. Many, if not most of these letters were sent to his brother Theo. This is where the title of the play originates from, as Vincent often concluded his letters to Theo with “With a Warm Handshake”.

Noye Capehart Long, the Press Coordinator for High Country Writers and long-time friend of Joe’s, stated: “He is a close personal friend, I respect him enormously. And when I was asked by the HCW to plan the programs for the upcoming year I knew he was my first call.” He went on to explain “I think the world of him, but the richness of his talent is hard to describe. He is so unassuming, kind of practical joker too, so this makes his accomplishments all the more impressive. He is just an extraordinary man.”

Miller wrote the play in the mid-1980’s and has performed it throughout the United States to public schools and libraries, art clubs, hospitals, workshops and conferences, including the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, the Dallas Art Museum, the South Carolina Psychiatry Association and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. Yet, Noye claims that even after all these performances, the play gets better and better every time, and there is never a dry eye in the room.  

He states: “It’s not hard, I know Joe really well, I know it’s my friend Joe Miller up there, but if I let my mind wander just a little, Joe is Theo Van Gogh. He is very persuasive in this role, and it is honestly a real treasure.”

Please Note: Unlike regularly scheduled meetings of the HCW at the Watauga County Public Library, this special presentation of With a Warm Handshake will be given at Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, 374 Industrial Park Drive, Boone, NC 28607. Parking spaces are at the right of Cheap Joe’s. Please enter the Retail Store on the left side of the building. The program will begin promptly at 10:00 am.