Mother’s Day event is an opportunity for crafts, baking and art appreciation
Jim Stucko remembers going to bed at night and his dad walking into the kitchen. Elder Stucko was going to bake a few batches of his winning rye bread recipe so he could bake it and bring it to friends in the morning.
Not only was Stucko, a former resident of Elba, a talented sculptor and artist, but he was also “an amazing cook”, his son said.
“I miss the guy a lot. Every time I cook something, I think about the conversations we had in the kitchen,” Jim said during a Tuesday interview with The Batavian. “My parents shook this world.”
Artwork from the collections of John and his wife Sophie Stucko will be on display with late artists Patricia Burr and Eunice Hare Murphy for a first-ever craft sale and Mother’s Day raffle from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. pm Saturday at the Elba Firemen’s Recreation Hall, Route 98, Elba. The event is organized and hosted by Elba Betterment Committee.
“It’s all part of the grant we received from GO Art! for our project: Elba Betterment Committee presents Art Around Town. The idea to include our local artists actually came from one of our members, Kelly Dudley, who has always wanted to do this stuff at The Mill in Elba,” said EBC President Pauli Miano. . “After contacting the families, three were willing and excited to share the talent of their loved ones with us.”
The artist’s pieces will be exhibited in the Rec Hall. Burr and Murphy were art teachers at Elba Central School, and the three artists shared their work in the community by donating pieces to the school, churches and other organizations, Miano said. .
The Stucko couple have collaborated on many projects, Jim said. John made wooden cabinets and Sophie’s handmade stained glass adorned the doors. She was from Batavia and John from Albion, and after they got married they bought a house in Elba, Jim said. His parents were outdoor enthusiasts, and his father commemorated various species of birds and fish in an elaborate fashion.
“The birds were carved, the feathers were burned into the wood for texture, then he painted them. I bet he’s got 100 hours in the paint,” Jim said. “It wasn’t a job; it was a labor of love. He stayed in his studio painting, and if he didn’t like it, he would paint it again.
He remembers his father going through the books to find the right species of bird and refining the colors and textures of each piece. His work became so popular that people offered to commission him for particular projects, although John turned them down. He preferred to create exactly what he wanted, and not necessarily what others had in mind, Jim said. Most likely, the artist was a perfectionist, and it showed in his work.
One of his last pieces was a large woodpecker for someone he connected with for a love of the outdoors and birds.
“It was absolutely breathtaking,” Jim said. “He was highly skilled in many places and he was a people person. Until we started looking through the photos, I never realized how much my dad was smiling.
Jim laughed thinking about his parents’ determination to stay strong – or stubborn in some cases – throughout their busy lives. John Stucko was active in his craft, which included calabash carvings, until his death in 2019 at age 89. Sophie died a few years earlier in 2017 and was 83 years old.
There will be 25 tables of vendors offering craft items and food. The committee wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be a lot of duplicate items, so each vendor has to sell a particular craft. They range from wooden signs and handmade handbags to floral arrangements, ornaments and, for the sweet tooth, a bakery section with cookies, cakes and cannolis, Miano said.
The committee will also serve food for purchase and the first 50 moms will receive a free carnation. Staff from the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office will also be available with photo and fingerprinting materials for families who request them for their children.
Eunice Hare Murphy was a graduate of Elba Central School in 1948. She then earned her degree in art education at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. She received her Masters in Elementary Education from SUNY Brockport. Her first teaching job was for the West Bloomfield School District. Her family shared that she drives her little Chevy with a standard two-way transmission from Genesee County every day.
Over the years, “Eunie”, as her friends and family called her, taught art at Byron Bergen Central School and ended her successful career as an educator at Elba Central. She taught arts, crafts and photography classes. Eunice was a member of the Writer’s Guild in the 1970s and even dabbled in poetry.
Eunice loved gardening and, using a variety of different rocks and plants, enjoyed creating clever and, at times, quirky gardens. While teaching on Elba, she was an advisor for the yearbook and helped develop the variety show that functioned for years as a fundraiser for the yearbook. Eunice lost her four-year battle with cancer in 1988 at the age of 57.
Patricia Burr’s enthusiasm for painting is evident in a collection of 14 sketchbooks, each with memories of the places and people she visited on vacation, workshops and even in the study room at the studio. Central School of Elba. Besides pencil and ink sketches, a drawing is rendered in brown eyebrow pencil in the dark at Kleinhans Music Hall without a pen.
Her van didn’t leave her house without “the art stuff”, just in case she found an interesting scene. This may be while waiting for the doctor or dentist, or even during downtime during jury duty; it was time for his sketchbook.
Burr’s philosophy was to “make a drawing because you get a lot more information by observing the subject than when you just take a picture”. Jot down some color notes, the date and time of day, the weather next to the sketch to help you when planning to paint later in the studio, she said.
Burr was inspired by fellow painters Margaret M. Martin, Franklin Jones, and Don Getz. She was educated at Albright Art School, Buffalo State College, University at Buffalo, and Rochester Institute of Technology.
Active all her life, Burr died aged 96 in 2014.
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Top photo: A duck sculpture by the late artist John Stucko and several works by Stucko and artists Patricia Burr and Eunice Hare Murphy will be on display at the Craft Show and Mother’s Day Basket Sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Elba Firemen’s Recreation Hall on Route 98, Elba. Photos by Howard Owens.