- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2015

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) - Looking out the shop window of 410 W. Main St., Keenan Miller is not only reminded of the long history of Mandan’s train depot - he is reminded of his father.

Gary Miller is known for depicting rural North Dakota, including the depot, in his paintings. Keenan Miller is keeping his father’s legacy alive, reopening his gallery, which graced downtown Bismarck for 40 years, in a new Mandan location.

“I like the spot,” he said as he glanced across the street.

Since Christmas, Keenan Miller has been working on reopening his father’s gallery. He still has some painting to do and signs to hang but hopes to be open by July 4, the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1FzNoRi ) reported.

“I love his art so much,” he said. “I just want to keep that going.”

Keenan Miller has many memories of sitting on his father’s lap as he painted. He said his father would research his subjects before painting, resulting in details that were “out of this world.”

“He told me, ‘I think this thing will fly. I really think it will,’” Keenan Miller said as he pointed to a detailed painting called “Space Travel” his father had done of a spaceship. It’s just one of many memories Keenan Miller has of his father on Father’s Day.

The Millers had one month to move their father’s paintings out of the gallery at 305 E Broadway Ave. in Bismarck. The new Mandan gallery is about half the size of the Bismarck space. Many of the walls are already covered, but there are still more paintings to be displayed. About two-thirds of Gary Miller’s artwork will be displayed.

“We had a lot of stuff in Bismarck,” said Tammy DeWall, Keenan Miller’s fiancée.

In addition to selling his father’s prints, Keenan Miller will offer custom matting, framing and dry mounting.

“When it’s open, it will be nice to have a frame shop in Mandan,” he said.

Gary Miller went to school for art but was working the Tesoro Refinery in Mandan when he and his wife started the gallery in 1974. Keenan Miller said his father would paint and draw while at work.

“If he didn’t like it, he would crunch it up and throw it away,” DeWall said.

His co-workers told stories of pulling the drawings out of the garbage after he left the room.

Kennan Miller said he and his family still have a few of the original paintings, including some that were not printed before. Most of the other originals have been sold.

“It’s pretty much down to family pieces,” he said.

Some of Gary Miller’s previously unseen paintings will be printed on canvas for viewing at the new location, Keenan Miller said.

Keenan Miller’s favorite painting is “Mountain Pals.” He said his father painted the mountain man’s face from a man that he met in Colorado. The dog in the pictures was modeled after his own dog.

Keenan Miller said he hopes to open Gary’s Gallery in Mandan five days a week, “like the old gallery,” 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday and until 2 p.m. on Saturday.

“I didn’t want to see it go away, but it was too much for Mom,” he said of the Bismarck gallery.

Keenan Miller had already been looking at spots in Mandan for several years when his mother, Darla Miller, decided to close the Bismarck Gallery. When she told him, “I have to be out of here Dec. 1,” he started to make the move. He said, although she wanted to be able to spend more time with her grandkids, he knew she would miss the gallery.

However, customers should expect to find her sitting in the new gallery from time to time, according to Keenan Miller.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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