Sherman Resident Discovers Joy Through Art

Tamme Steffan, a 1982 Sherman Central School graduate, has spent the past several years perfecting her artistic talent.

As a result, her pieces have appeared at locations across Chautauqua County, including A Page In Time of Lakewood, Exquisite Things Gift Shoppe in Bemus Point, Something Unique in Sherman and most recently Ryder’s Cup Coffee Shop located at Off The Beaten Path Bookstore in Lakewood. A number of Steffan’s pieces will be on exhibit at Ryder’s Cup through the month of July.

The piece which earned her an exhibit at Ryder’s Cup is entitled “Ladies of Leisure.” The piece was created by recycling shredded paper documents to produce a paper base to which she affixed parchment paper in the shape of a woman in blue.

“It’s a neat process,” said Steffan. “My sister showed me how to make paper, but after that it was trial and error because I don’t have any formal training. All this paper that I’m repurposing would have been put in landfill. Shred it, pulp it, screen it, roll it – hang it.”

According to Steffan, she hadn’t done art for more than 25 years until her sister, Alberta Parker, who is an artist and teacher, inspired her in 2006 to express herself.

“My sister handed me charcoal and said, ‘It’s about time you start,'” said Steffan. “So, I did a charcoal drawing of a horse, which I took to Something Unique in Sherman to get framed, and the owner Bob Rogers asked me if I wanted to have a show – I thought he was kidding.”

Steffan got right to work, creating as many pieces for the show as she could. Her first exhibit turned out to be a major hit, enabling her to sell more than 40 pieces in one evening. Her most popular pieces were clay chickens, which she continues to make and sell on a regular basis. The inspiration for the chicken pieces comes from being a farm girl, she said.

“My chickens are very whimsical, fun and look like they are having a bad hair day, but are something that everybody seems to like,” said Steffan. “I’ve always loved to watch chickens run. I don’t think there is anything funnier than being behind a chicken and watching them run because they are so clunky and goofy. I make them by rolling a slab of clay and then sculpt it into the form of a chicken. I really like hand-building my pieces.”

After that show, Rogers was able to secure her a place at a Chautauqua Suites art event, which featured many local artists. One of her angel pieces was featured on the advertisement for the show. As a result of participating in the show, one of Steffan’s pottery pieces was purchased and shipped to Europe. Steffan attributes her pottery training to Ron Nasca, owner of Mudslingers in Fredonia, who continues to throw her clay pieces in a kiln to this day.

According to Steffan, the inspiration for her work comes from God, whom she feels bestowed upon her the gift of art, so that she may share it with others. Steffan attends Lakewood Baptist Church.

“One day while sitting in church a song came on called ‘My Chains Are Gone’ and a painting came to my mind about all the things that people get in bondage with,” said Steffan. “So, I created this series of 6-foot tall paintings, and I had no idea why I was painting them – I just had to do it. The three paintings are now located at UCAN Ministries in Jamestown.”

In addition to her art, Steffan trains horses and teaches horseback riding lessons via Summerdale Equine Farm in Sherman. She lives on a farm in Sherman with her husband, Dougie. Dougie is the worship director at Lakewood Baptist, and he was once a percussionist for the Kokomo Time Band. Her daughter, Erica Spas, a 2004 Chautauqua Lake Central School graduate, currently works as a supervisor of ski lift operations at Copper Mountain Ski Resort in Colorado.

Off The Beaten Path Bookstore and Ryder’s Cup are located at 28 Chautauqua Ave. in Lakewood. For more information call 763-5686.