Family’s roots in art reach far and deep
HUGHESVILLE – With sketch pad in hand, Amanda Emig sat in a director’s chair in the Shaffer building during the Lycoming County Fair. She and family members are longtime veterans of the annual event for which they prepare all year long.
Currently a 4-H leader, the family focuses on Emig’s daughters who each have specific interests. “My daughter Alara found her passion in horses. Riding since age five we now own a horse enabling her to participate in the 4-H program named ‘Stirrup Some Fun.’
“Younger daughter Maibren is interested in drawing motivating my drive to spearhead the 4-H Art-i-tude project,” said Emig who has been entering artwork at the fair for more than 30 years and daughters the past eight years.
Already with more than 20 members, the ‘Artitude’ group won nearly 100 prizes after entering for the first time at the 2012 fair. The budding artists are excited when accomplishing their goals and their instructor is proud of them. “I saw parents smiling too and this makes a world of difference, I feel strongly about acknowledging all efforts,” Emig said, noting top prize winner Courtney Houseknecht, daughter of Montoursville residents Brooke and Kurt Houseknecht.
Emig gets the impression that when people think of 4-H, they think of cows, sheep, goats and horses. “The 4-H program introduces kids to a large variety of professions from livestock to cooking, art, technology, science, etc,” the leader said.
Of her own introduction into the art world Emig said, “I’ve known since I was little I wanted to be an artist. My mother was the drive behind the decision to focus a career around graphic design and shared with me a love for typography.”
Through her encouragement, the daughter obtained a FBA in Communication Design from Kutztown University and a ME Masters of Education from American Intercontinental University.
Currently Emig is a graphic designer at the James V. Brown Library and an Adjunct Instructor at PA College of Technology, both in Williamsport.
As her fair booth depicted, she also owns Wildwood Graphic Designs and Wistar Studio.
“The enterprise began to create unique gifts after seeing artwork I’d purchase. For Christmas gifts one year, I drew pets for the ladies at my workplace. I snagged photos from their desks and began sketching. My pet loving co-workers appreciated these gifts so much, they showed others and soon people were sending photos asking to have something drawn for them,” the artist said. To keep her works affordable, Emig uses various pencils to capture details.
As for purveying in the Howard Shaffer building named for her grand-daddy, Emig said, “I made a decision to pay for the space so I could display in his building. I know my success comes directly from my family. I’m so proud to have the opportunities in my life to fulfill my dreams and inspire others to do the same. It’s important for me to include my family in everything I do.”
Sharing some family history, mother Emily Shaffer Bassler said, “Although we’ve always loved horses, the only family member I knew to have owned one was my maternal grandfather Charles Bubb. He rode horse on his Hughesville mail route and died in 1987 at the age of 92,” she said.
As for family artists, the Hughesville native said, “My father’s nickname was ‘Skinny Shaffer’ he owned and operated the former Hughesville Marble and Granite Works along East Water Street. We have many original decorative designs he used for tombstone etchings. He loved fishing and drew landscapes of cabins and pin trees, some hung in the family cabin at Beaver Lake.”
Bassler is proficient in graphic arts, fine art, sign painting, elementary art and architectural drawing. “On the fair’s 100th anniversary, I drew four scenes depicting the fair including the grandstand and horse stables. Most of the yellow buildings that stood those 42 years ago have been replaced,” she said.
Now with the involvement of Howard Shaffer’s great-granddaughters Alara and Maribren who are just approaching their teen years, it’s possible the Shaffer family’s connections with the fair could continue for decades and beyond.