Michael C. McMillen’s Art & “Swamp Shrine”- a Poem

Kudos to the Oakland Museum of California- Michael C. McMillen’s exhibit was brilliant and beautifully presented; the best yet! McMillen’s work was visceral, raw and real or completely surreal. It was new at the same time reminiscent of small town USA on a past roadtrip, or something from your grandparent’s life.

 Michael C. McMillen‘s exhibit (just left Oakland’s Museum of California) spans 30 years of drawings, paintings, sculpture, giant moving mechanical games, collaged film shorts, and exhilarating room-sized installations.  Many of his detailed scenes were miniatures made for film backdrops. I loved how the museum placed his exhibits variously throughout the entire wing- creating the feeling of discovery every time we happened upon his pieces or film corners.  Both the artistry and presentation were genius.  (Kudos curator- this is the best exhibit ever!)

It was extra fun & inviting with the giant room installations; luxurious enough to enter, walk porch planks, part drapes, peek through doors, wend and touch your way through.

It was visceral, raw and real or completely surreal. It was new at the same time reminiscent of small town USA on a past roadtrip, or something from your grandparent’s life.

It was sometimes foreboding

with death hovering, but often humorously.







I could write poems for each piece.

One giant installation, “The Pavilion of Rain” could be felt with all senses, and a couple of emotions- from the humidity on your skin, to the feeling of aloneness in a one room house shed, all while suspended over a swamp.  It was easy to judge the exterior.

But then I went back to sit inside on the bench with eyes closed, to hear the frogs & crickets, and feel everything McMillen gave us to feel.

Swamp Shrine

Who knew that rain

falling on corrugated tin

could soothe like this?

My roof-made tympani

whispers stories from afar

sweet rhythms hold me close

in a long embrace.

Even the frogs are silent now

as water dances shadows down

these torn lace drapes.

How can I repay this kindness?

I will stay awake, be

here to welcome inside

the moon, or a drop

of water

-whoever enters first.


© Tara Linda

“If There was Something I Forgot to Say…” Poem

Artist Michael C. McMillen,  installation- Oakland Art Museum

If there was something I forgot to say, I’m sure this place will say it for me.

And maybe you’ll hear it when I pull away
onto the frontage, parallel Interstate 5
your silver Jetstream shrinking small in my rearview mirror,
windows aglow in soft blue light, maybe then.
Or channel surfing, your mind wide opened like the wires
of the ham antennae I split and hung for you
from the top of that skeleton of a rusty derrick.  Or soon,
when you lie back, close your eyes to cricket song
amplified from empty steel barrels near Grandpa’s Chevy, louder
than nature intended, but comforting still. Or just before you fall asleep
in that whir of a highway lullaby, between backfired fills
and down-shifting gears as drivers time their exit
to Mirabel’s Truckstop.

Or last hope- maybe you’ll hear from the dream frontier-
that spitting image of our junkyard home
(sans mortgage) bathed in scarlet sky, with a perfect soundtrack
of shortwave radio arias scoring the filmed crescendo, just before
the starlet you-so-love, stuffed into her beaded dress, sashays out and stops.
Turns (just right for affect), and having all
your attentions (no interference now)
in a soft voice
whispered slow
low and gentle

       all those


       I couldn’t find.

Mermaid’s Lair~ Ocean inspired jewelry

“The Mermaid” and ocean inspired new jewelery.

“The Mermaid” – J. W. Waterhouse  has always made my heart sing~

I see the Deep’s untrampled floor

With green and purple sea-weeds strown;

I see the waves upon the shore

like light dissolved in star-showers thrown…

Percy Bysshe Shelley

This piece (Sold) is inspired by recent trips to the coast, and by the ever-transfixing Nautilus shell button by Green Girl Studios (a fantastical creature!).  Bracelet has stones of apatite, amazonite,  unpolished onyx, turquoise, glass, and quartz, lampwork glass, seaweed pearls, & black and white pearls for beadcaps.

The Nautilus sold, but I will be adding more like this to my Etsy store, for the Siren Series– jewelry for all amphibious sirens.  😉




To Find current work and prices- visit my ETSY shop: THREE MUSES. Thank you!!