JUNE 6 FEATURE VENDOR – ASPIRING ARTISTS OF ANTIETAM
Aspire to Inspire: Artists of Antietam
by Denise Gierula
I am sure most will agree last winter seemed endless and it sometimes felt as if spring would never descend upon our beautiful valley. I am most thankful for the reprieve of snow shoveling because here on Friedensburg Road we become weary; we race to stay ahead of PennDOT’s schedule to plow our driveways back in with snow after having dug ourselves out. For the past two winters, while I shoveled snow like a wild banshee, I have noticed a woman casually walk up and down Friedensburg Road with camera in hand. Over my shoulder, I watch as she takes time to artistically and creatively frame wintery scenes with her camera. In particular, the shots seem to revolve around MY pine trees. Overcome with jealousness of her much better use of time, I am now known to throw down my shovel, make a cup of tea and sit on my porch—if just for a few minutes—to take in nature’s splendor. It is then that I wonder, who was this stranger who taught me stop and appreciate the magical beauty of new fallen snow on a winter’s day?
That stranger, as it turns out, is neighbor and now friend Meg Archambault—who happens to have a stand at our famers market called Aspiring Artists of Antietam. “I have always taken pictures and my thousands and thousands of photos are proof! However, it was not until moving to Mount Penn that I started taking it seriously. I bought a digital camera, took classes at Longwood Gardens, and have not stopped taking photos since. I have done photo shoots and some event photography but my biggest passion is creating “photo messages” for my newest entrepreneurial online adventure called tinymessages.com. There, and on Facebook, I create ‘inspiring, nurturing, and empowering’ messages in three words or less on my photographs and artwork. I’ve been having fun with that,” says Meg.
“I started to draw at an early age of maybe 5 years old. I loved to draw the characters in the “Draw Me” contests in the TV Guide. One time I entered the contest, but had to lie about my age because I was too young.” recalls Meg who, born and raised in Reading. She attended Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where she double majored in Mass Communications and Art. Meg says, “I went to a Liberal Arts college because I thought I wanted to get into advertising. My second major was art and I studied photography, color theory, sculpture, graphic design (typesetting back then!) and more. I even wrote and illustrated a children’s storybook that I framed and hung in my son’s bedroom in Atlanta. Even though I did love my art classes, I never really did anything significant with my talent in all of my working years, until recently…as I am only now getting back into art. You could really say I am just starting my third career.”
Meg’s first career was as an Account Executive with The Coca-Cola Company where she worked for 12 years in various sales and sales training roles. Her second career began when she left The Coca-Cola Company in 2000 to pursue a training career. For the past 15 years, she has been self-employed as a Training & Development Consultant and Coach. Meg says, “It was in 2010, when we moved to Pennsylvania, that I put my training business ‘on the back burner’ so-to-speak, so I could happily focus on home and family.”
Meg is married to her husband AJ and has one son, Noah, age 10 and Maddie, her stepdaughter, who recently finished her first year at Temple University in Philadelphia. She also lives with three cats: Niles, Bonnie and Clyde. Having lived most of her adult life in Atlanta, Georgia before moving back home to Berks County, she now resides in a beautiful 1920’s home on Spook Lane.
One day, Meg’s husband said, “Honey, no one is ever going to see your photography on the dining room table.” It was then that she decided to take a leap of faith and rented a spot at Stretch Your Dollar, the indoor flea market in the Antietam Shopping Center. Meg admits, “A few photos did sell, however, it never really took off. And so in March I decided to close down that space in order to try the Antietam Valley Farmers’ & Artists’ Market instead!”
I told Meg that her stand at our market makes me feel like we have our own little art gallery on our side of town. Meg replied about her new venture, “I knew it was going to be a stretch for me, and so I had the idea to include others, like me, who were new to art and who didn’t have an outlet to share their creations. I wanted to provide a space so people could get their artwork out into the public with little investment. So, the idea for Aspiring Artists of Antietam was born.”
Meg started her new endeavor with stepdaughter Maddie Archambault, along with friends Jen Neiheiser, Morgan Love and, most recently, Melissa “Mim Smith” Faro. “We all live locally in the Antietam Valley and have either gone to Antietam school or have kids who go to Antietam schools. We have had several people ask about joining us, which has been flattering and wonderful but, at this point, we are realizing that are running out of space.
Which is a good thing!” says Meg.
Here is an idea of what artists are offering: Maddie Archambault creates beautiful handcrafted greeting cards (general and special occasion). Jen Neiheiser offers a wide selection of bracelets and rings, each made from something recycled – buttons, charms, watch faces – and many having special messages. Morgan Love specializes in pen/ink/marker drawings of animals, plus, you can commission a drawing of your beloved pet. Melissa “Mim Smith” Faro crafts uniquely handmade earrings, photo-cards and will have more to come. Meg Archambault produces framed photography, watercolor prints, notecards, and tinymessages on magnets and more.
In addition, Meg will be hosting online classes through tinymessages.com. There is a class starting June 21st, called “Summer of Self-Love” for busy women who want to love themselves more!
You can find more information about Meg’s creations on Facebook at both www.facebook.com/tinymessages and at www.facebook.com/Shima-Creations-Photoghraphy-Art) and, of course, please stop by our market and visit with Meg at the Aspiring Artists of Antietam.
I could not resist asking Meg what she thought about our market so far and she responded, “Oh, so far I have loved it! My favorite part is talking to customers, sharing the story of each artist, and showing what they offer. Customers have been so supportive of our endeavor. It has been a real highlight for all of us to sell our first work of art! Many thanks to all who have stopped by the market to support our local farmers and artists. This is truly a highlight of my summer!”