Miller closes studio "with a heavy heart"

People flocked to an Artists' Gala — featuring food, music, and merriment as well as art — at Desolation road Studios in Altamont. The business is now closing.

ALTAMONT — Desolation Road Studios will close its doors next month, after four years of providing music and art to Altamont and the surrounding area.

“I’m not closing my business; I’m just closing my Altamont location,” said owner Jim Miller. “Mostly, it’s ‘location, location, location.’ ”

Miller said that getting people in the door was his biggest challenge.

“The business made enough money, but not enough…24/7/365,” he said.

Desolation Road Studios houses a custom-framing shop, artist consignments, and a store and gift shop.

Miller photographs artists’ work and creates prints, restores old photos, and photographs three-dimensional art, he said. Miller will continue to offer his services by working out of his home and out of rented studios, he said.

At Desolation Road Studios, Miller said, he hosted up to 75 consignment artists.

“I’ve also done music. I’ve had top-notch music in the studio,” Miller said. He offered musicians a performance venue “someplace other than a bar,” where artists would not have to compete with conversation, he said. Desolation Road Studios hosted touring regional musicians from Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and as far away as Chicago, Miller said.

“Every Friday and Saturday night, there’s music in the studio,” he said, noting that the musicians were professional and semi-professional performers.

“It’s a numbers thing,” Miller said about closing the Altamont shop. “Not enough people in the surrounding area are interested in the services. It’s not that people don’t know I’m there.”

Miller named the economic downturn as a major reason for closing the gallery.

When people have limited income, he said, “They need to buy Cheerios for their kids.” He compared his situation with school budget cuts.

“What gets saved? It’s not art,” he said. Miller compared sports scholarships and those for art students against later careers in sports and art.

Occupations in the real world for art include graphic art for marketing, and anything on television, he said. About art education, he said, “We spend a negligible amount of money.”

In a letter to his patrons, Miller wrote, “It is with a heavy heart and much anguish that I've decided to close the Desolation Road Studios location here in the beautiful village of Altamont.” Miller said that nearby Guilderland, with one of the region’s largest and highest-income populations, did not provide enough traffic through his studio.

“It’s a shame I’ve got to close. It’s being able to get a reasonable number of people through the door to patronize the services,” he said. “People who go into art are not looking to get rich. We do it for the love of it. At some point, I’ve got to make a living.

“I’ve met quite a few interesting people in Altamont. I’ve had a nice little run there,” Miller continued. “I had hoped to make it to five years. For a variety of reasons, I need to close. It is what it is, as they say.”

The studio will continue to sell consignment art through October at regular prices, but will liquidate inventory with a “50-percent-off Mega Art Sale.”

“Thank you to everyone who patronized the Studios and bought local,” Miller wrote.

Miller is hosting a good-bye party on Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for anyone who has been involved with the studio as an artist, a musician, customer, or friend. The party will involve “music, food, and frivolity,” he said.

“It will be a bittersweet moment, I’m sure,” Miller said.

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