Deana (Dee-na) Miller, Executive Director of the Lowry Foundation, was struck by the art world as a child. “My family was very artistic—even though my father was in construction, he was clever about whatever he was building. My mother was a nurse and an avid quilter making unique art quilts. I was surrounded by artistic ideas and designs.” The Boulder family was in the right place – Boulder has always been “precious” and in the University’s shadow, many can bloom.
“In high school,” Deana says, “I was required to take an art class to graduate, so I took photography, and I was hooked. I was always a social child and was organizing art shows in school and in the neighborhood. Then for college, I was ready to move on from Boulder to an urban area at CU-Denver and Metropolitan State. I was an International Affairs major and soon changed to fine arts. I knew where I had a ‘home.’ And I was still organizing art shows and celebrating the artistic communities.” Denver was the right place for someone with a ton of energy, great at making connections, and having a joy of creating communities.
Deana took her social skills and art background to her first job as a junior in college working for an art consultant who started and managed corporate art collections such as at Qwest (the phone company) and Kaiser Permanente. She gained an internship with the City and County of Denver in Cultural Affairs at 23, still volunteering at art galleries, putting on art shows on campus and showing “all the cool ‘90s art. I had my hand in so many art pies and using my social skills, had showings constantly in the Denver area. I then decided to move to Los Angeles.”
Hitting the “big time” on the coast, she continued her art “circus” of finding artists, showing their works, and consulting on public art projects for companies and finding them paintings to display. Returning to Denver in 1999, she worked in the packing and shipping side of handling art and installing it. Early in her career, she was the Business and Membership Manager for the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. From 2004 to 2011, she had installed 150 public art pieces and had a two million dollar budget running Aurora’s art program. She put on 10 art exhibits a year in galleries, libraries and municipal buildings. She ‘bleed’ art and was ready to move along.
After buying the art consulting company she worked for in college, she and her husband worked around the state helping communities build creative districts, art programs, and taking care of public art collections. She has worked in 40 cities statewide.
In 2019, she transitioned to a job closer to her childhood home in Boulder where she worked for the Town of Superior, Colorado, and then for their business Chamber of Commerce, which took her into the business world. She loved the idea of taking on a small community and encouraging new businesses, culture and art to a small town. Just when she thought she had the town organized, the Marshall Fire (12/30/2021) destroyed more than a 1,000 homes in Superior and Louisville. “I couldn’t leave the town then even though it was extremely difficult emergency response work. I had seven year-old triplets who needed more than I could muster after working 24/7 for five months after the fire. I learned more about insurance and wildfire recovery than I ever wanted to learn. This all happened after two months with Covid-19 and Shingles.” She shakes her head sadly remembering when she felt pretty low and had three seven year-olds buzzing around.
But then Lowry was looming ahead, and the family moved here in 2017, and the art world kismet struck again when she saw an ad for an executive director position at The Lowry Foundation. Voila, she applied and was happily accepted given her strong points for the job; she liked and wanted to work with art, she likes organizing communities and events and being a social director, she had business experience, and she lived in Lowry. This worked for The Lowry Foundation as well, and now we have an energetic and qualified executive director who likes organizing events while still managing her energetic triplets: Everlee, Sam, and Grayson (the boys are identical twins).
How does she do it all? “I had my children at 43, so I hit the ground running with them. We all work together artistically (her husband is a sculptor), and as a team.” They all explore Lowry on their bikes and taking biking seriously while they explore the “hood” and history of this great neighborhood. She hesitated picking favorite spots: “Truly, we have a great range of good places for kids and adults. But we like the Officer’s Club, Walter’s, Lowry Beer Garden, Café’ Mercado, and we are trying out the new places in Boulevard One.” She’s working her way through contacting the businesses, schools and nonprofits as well as keeping her eye on making Lowry the best neighborhood in Denver.
Deana is partnering with Lowry United Neighborhoods and other community organizations to build a stronger, more vibrant Lowry. With input from the public, the Foundation will engage their newest resource, the Starbright Fund, to make creative improvements to public places, support education and leadership for residents, promote the business community, and bolster nonprofits.
Meet Your Lowry Neighbors is a monthly feature written by our intrepid reporter Sally Kurtzman, who knows everyone in our community. If you have a suggestion for a Meet Your Lowry Neighbor, please send us an email to email@example.com.