Cape Arago Lighthouse by Emily Miller

Late summer sun illuminates the turquoise waters and rocky, forested shoreline of the southern Oregon coast near Coos Bay. Cape Arago Lighthouse is visible in the distance.

Cape Arago Lighthouse was built on Chief’s Island in 1866 to guide merchant ships into Coos Bay, just 13 years after white settlers first arrived in the area. Chief’s Island is just offshore, but proved dangerous to access with multiple washed-out bridges and boat disasters over the years. The current lighthouse is the third to be built at Cape Arago. It was deactivated in 2006 after 140 years of service.

In 2013, the last bridge to the island was removed and the land transferred to the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. The Confederate Tribes hope to establish an interpretive center on the mainland near the lighthouse.

Cleft of the Rock Lighthouse by Emily Miller

Late summer fog hangs over the horizon at Cape Perpetua, near Yachats on the central Oregon coast. The beacon from Cleft of the Rock Light can be seen 16 miles offshore, and might be welcomed at sea on these frequent foggy days.

The lighthouse and attached dwelling were built as a labor of love in 1976 by James Gibbs, a former Tillamook Rock Light attendant and lighthouse historian. He lived here until his death in 2010.

 


Yaquina Head Lighthouse from Cobble Beach by Emily Miller

Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon, with a 93 ft. tower and a light that can be seen 19 miles out to sea. It was built in 1873 and continues to operate today. It is located on a high, exposed cliff near Newport, on Oregon’s central coast.

The lighthouse is part of the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, a federal reserve that is home to an incredible array of wildlife and beautiful coastline. The site has been popular with visitors since the 1930s, when nearly 12,000 visitors made it the 4th most visited lighthouse in the United States. Today it receives over 400,000 visitors per year.

A vein of magnetized iron runs through the bedrock of Yaquina Head, causing ships’ compasses to malfunction if they venture too near.

 

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse from Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock reflects in the shallow waters of an outgoing tide at Cannon Beach, on Oregon’s northern coast. A mile offshore, the Tillamook Rock lighthouse is visible in the distance. The lighthouse is located on a barren, exposed rock, situated to guide merchant ships to the mouth of the Columbia River.

Construction on the Tillamook Rock lighthouse began in 1879 and was not finished until 1881 due to powerful storms that made construction and transport of materials nearly impossible. The lighthouse became known as “Terrible Tilly”. Waves broke over the rock strong enough to drench the entire lighthouse, collapsing roofs, flooding the interior, clogging the mechanisms with debris, breaking loose boulders and sending them flying through the air. The lighthouse keepers were totally isolated and tasked with constant repairs.

In 1957 the lighthouse was deactivated after 77 years of service. After changing hands several times, it was most recently used as a columbarium where the ashes of around 30 people are stored.

“Lighthouses have a mythical quality. A lighthouse stands for untold stories of stormy nights, beautiful sunrises, and the hardship and magic of life at the edge of the sea. A lighthouse symbolizes the journey between wild ocean and safe harbor. This transition zone is one of my favorite places to explore.” –Emily Miller, artist


Emily Miller, artist

Last fall I took a road trip to visit and paint at all eleven lighthouses on the Oregon coast. Lighthouses have a mythical quality to me. They symbolize the journey between wild ocean and safe harbor. I love the ocean and have always lived near it. To me, the coast is a border between the known and unknown. This transition zone is one of my favorite places to explore.

I choose to paint the landscape view rather than close-ups or lighthouse interiors because my artwork is centered on the way we interact with our environments. I am most interested in how we alter the landscape to suit our needs, and how the landscape, in return, alters our structures over time.

The paintings were completed on location (en plein air) or in the studio from my many reference photos. The series is about half-finished.

I enjoy series projects like this because they provide a framework for exploring and understanding an area. I spend more time at beautiful places while I’m painting and photographing. The project gives me a reason to dig deeper into the history of a place, and discover new spots that I might have missed otherwise.
Each lighthouse has its own story. Tillamook Rock Lighthouse is just south of Seaside on a barren rock one mile offshore. It was pounded by incredible storms where waves broke boulders off the cliff side and crashed them into the lighthouse. You can see its silhouette from Ecola State Park and Cannon Beach. Cape Meares Lighthouse in Tillamook and Yaquina Head Light in Newport are both still active and you can go inside the tower and climb up the spiral stairs.

 

 

Emily Miller with her art:  anemone and sea urchin bowls and the Oregon light house series.

 

 

Grace Note received:

“Thanks again for a great Art Walk event FINDINGS, Fairweather opening reception. It was wonderful to see the new gallery layout and chat with the other artists. Someone asked me if I was making a book from the lighthouse painting series. I may do that once it has finished, and then you will not have to hunt down maps in the magazines anymore!–Emily Miller

 

 

 

“Quick update if you want to share with your clients. Now thru the end of 2017, I am donating 10% of my proceeds to local ocean conservancy and art organizations. Thank you for your part in making my art ventures a success!!”

 

And, too,  an encore request for the image of the Sea Urchin bowl with spines by Emily Miller.

 

Making a Difference:  Emily Miller donates 10% of all proceeds to local ocean conservancy and art organizations.