Editor's Note: Patch contributor Peg Heminitz is the reporter mentioned in the story who helped to locate mystery artist Dan Stauffer.
“Oh my gosh—look at that,” said Dan Stauffer looking at a picture he painted from about 1973. “I forgot what it looked like. It still has the original frame.”
The painting was of a lake with rocks and trees along the shoreline and mountains in view behind, but he couldn’t remember the location of the scene that caught his eye at the age of 16.
Several dozen people mingled about, viewing the nearly 100 pieces of art on display at the Hivel und Dahl art show Sept. 27 in the Upper Milford Township Municipal Center. They were also awaiting the presentation of the “mystery artist” Dan Stauffer.
Jim Baker, Hivel und Dahl member, introduced Stauffer to the attendees and explained why he was their “mystery artist.” A family in Vera Cruz that originally purchased the painting some 38 years ago loaned it to the organization for the art show, but no one knew anything about the artist.
During a press conference, Baker said, he mentioned the search for Stauffer. The reporter knew someone by that name, did some research and located the artist.
“I am stunned and floored how this came about,” said Stauffer. “I hung the painting in a beauty salon in Emmaus in order to sell it. The painting is over 35 years old. It just goes to show that art can last a lifetime.”
While attending Emmaus High School, he entered, and won, many art contests. At that time, it was tradition for art students at the school to paint Halloween scenes on the windows of participating businesses. Stauffer won either first place or the Mayor’s Choice each of his high school years. He recalled that winning the Mayor’s Choice Award entitled him to ride with the mayor in the annual Emmaus Halloween Parade.
Stauffer grew up on Mountain Road in Macungie, graduated EHS in 1974 and went on to become a doctor. Today, he lives in Quakertown with his wife, Maggie; son, Daniel, 23; and daughter, Hayley, 20.
He paints two or three pictures each year for organizations to raffle or auction off. “They often bring in between $1000-$3000 each,” he said.
Stauffer shared a memory in which he gave a painting to the parents of a 13-year-old girl who died from ovarian cancer.
“They asked me to paint a favorite photo of her,” he said. “It was taken 12 hours before she died. It shows the priest in the background giving her last rites.”
Stauffer has never taken art lessons, except for one art class while in college. He said that sometimes he wishes he would have pursued art professionally, but what he is doing “is fine, too.”