Instructor Spotlight: Dan and Jan Niebauer

Dan and Jan Niebauer have been teaching Precious Metals Jewelry Making for forty-two years. This art class offers students of all ability levels the chance to design custom jewelry using centuries-old methods. After an introductory presentation, students are encouraged to develop a completely original design. Some students even come to class with a precious stone in mind or a relic that they wish to incorporate in their artwork. “We spend a lot of time designing and making sure that the piece is attainable so that they are able to finish something” says Dan Niebauer. “There are so many directions that you can go in jewelry. Jan is a wax worker, a great designer in wax. I am a fabricator, so we kind of cover both bases really well.”

With a vast knowledge of art history, professional artistry and decades of teaching experience, the instructors lead engaging, informative class sessions, usually with several returning students. Jan Niebauer notes that returning students love working together and with new students. “People get ideas from each other. They like the camaraderie. They’re learning not just from us but from each other.” It is also very valuable for jewelry artists to have access to professional equipment. The Niebauers buy new equipment each year for the studio and have a full complement of hand tools, saws, torches, casting equipment, enameling kilns, lapidary tools and lathes.

Dan Niebauer and Jan Niebauer met at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania while pursuing art degrees. Both returned to Edinboro to earn their masters in jewelry design. After college, Jan spent twenty years teaching in the Erie School District as traveling elementary art teacher and later as a preschool teacher. Dan spent years teaching art to students of all ages. His resume includes tenure as the art teacher in the Fairview school district, the ceramic instructor at Erie County VoTech, and jewelry professor at Edinboro University. Now the Niebauers own and manage Ralph Miller Jewelers located on West 8th street in downtown Erie. The shop is an Erie favorite but has also won national recognition, including the award for America’s Best Jewelers from National Jewelers Magazine. The Niebauers are always creating and refining jewelry and they estimate that together they produce 250 to 300 new pieces a year. Ralph Millers prides itself on offering customized jewelry to their clients. Stop by the store to find your next masterpiece.

Precious Metals Jewelry Making takes place on Wednesdays in the Spring and Fall and runs for seven weeks. Sign up today for the class beginning on April 18th.

Past Instructor Spotlight: EAM Artscope

Scott Rispin, November 2016

Meet the Instructors

Ed Bernik is a commercial photographer in Erie, PA with more then 30 years of experience in advertising, journalism and fine art photography. His distinctive portraiture is complemented by extensive editorial work in corporate, documentary and tourism photography and videography. Ed’s books on Pennsylvania include Pennsylvania Wilds: Images from the Allegheny National Forest, The Great Kinzua Bridge and Pennsylvania Crude: Boomtowns and Oil Barons . You can find his work online at
Greg Gehner began experimenting with welding in his friend’s garage for a high school art project that later led him into a sculpture program and eventually metalsmithing and blacksmithing at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He established his studio, Transit Forge, with a move to Pennsylvania and marriage to Metals/Jewelry Professor Cappy Counard of Edinboro University. One of his commissioned works was the bike rack outside of the Erie Art Museum. Check out his website
Esther Sung A. Hong received undergraduate and graduate degrees in Oriental Art in Korea with a focus in landscapes. She has exhibited and sold her work in galleries across the United States.
“This class was both enjoyable and worthwhile. It taught me something unique about oriental art style and philosophy. The ‘Zen’ quality of oriental painting was relaxing.”

“She worked with each individual separately and drew examples to help us learn as we went along”

“This class was a lot of fun. I learned something new that my school does not have.”

“Esther Hong is a wonderful teacher – taking the time to explain and demonstrate as well as giving individual attention where needed.

Denise Keim is a visual narrator, an educator, and a photographer. She has spent twenty years photographing the human landscape. Her vision has led her to work in design, corporate, editorial, and academic arenas. After working extensively throughout Eastern Europe as a Fulbright Scholar, she has a serious body of work that takes us on a striking visual journey and has us traversing the subtleties of the human condition.
Ehren Knapp resides in Erie, Pennsylvania, yet has lived and traveled extensively throughout the United States. He was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and developed his love for painting while in the service; adorning barracks, vehicles and offices with his designs. After the service he studied at the Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach, CA, Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy, and earned his BFA from Edinboro University. Ehren is a distinguished muralist and his work can be found on buildings and signs throughout Erie County. Ehren currently teaches art at Wayne Elementary in addition to leading drawing courses at the Erie Art Museum.
Matthew Mead, owner of Matt Mead Photography, is known for his breathtaking underwater photography. A former student of Art Becker ,he now teaches Photoshop courses through the Erie Art Museum. Mead is an avid scuba diver and his passion for diving and photography allows him to travel to locations all over the world. Matthew Mead is also a 2000 graduate of Clarion University, where he received a Bachelor of Science with a focus in Environmental Geoscience. For more information on Matt and his work visit his website
Dan and Jan Niebauer have been teaching and working in the jewelry field for over 45 years. They both hold master’s degrees from Edinboro University and are members of the Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee of America. Dan and Jan are the owners of Ralph Miller Jewelers.
“The class exceeded my expectations, I enjoyed it and found it educational as well.”
Scott Rispin began his 30+ years of artistic pursuits developing logos, carving signage and hand painting signs in his hometown of South Lake Tahoe, California. Since settling in Erie in 1990, Scott has been a working professional in nearly every aspect of the commercial arts; silk screening, custom graphics and signage and murals. He received his BA in Art Education from Mercyhurst College in 2003, and his MFA in painting from Edinboro University in 2008. Scott also currently teaches drawing and visual art classes at Penn State Behrend. Scott has won awards for his sculpture, painting, and public art projects. As an instructor he emphasizes individual achievement and encourages a fun and energetic classroom atmosphere. See Scott’s work on his website:
“Instructor was casual, interactive and knowledgeable”
Deborah Sementelli attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and received a BFA from Edinboro University. Deb delights in working in all types of media, with watercolor, drawing and fiber as her favorites.  In addition to teaching Life Drawing and Beginning Watercolor at the Museum, Deb is on the Pennsylvania teaching artist roster and shares her skills with students of all ages in Erie and the surrounding area.
“Good teaching methods, gentle critiques with a variety of activities.”

“Deb did a good job considering the different levels of experience of students. She was always pleasant and patient.”

“This class renewed my love for drawing” –life drawing

Wilda Sundberg has been an instructor at the Museum for 50 years. She has had solo exhibitions at the Erie Art Museum, Theil College, the Schuster Gallery, and the Waterford Community Center. Wilda is also a juried member of the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society and a founding member of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Artists Association.
“Wilda’s manor of teaching was gentle and accepting no matter what level each student happened to be.”

“Painting on location was a first for me, now, joining Wilda’s class had made this less intimidating.”

“Wilda wants us to paint in our own style and encourages us to do so.”

Erica Whiting earned her Bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Edinboro University and has exhibited in Erie including Urraro Gallery and the Bayfront Gallery. Her own work focuses on human relationships, “exploring the marks we leave behind and those that are left on us.” Many of her paintings and prints are inspired from personal x-ray slides. Erica teaches art and design classes at Collegiate Academy and strongly believes expression through art allows for success in all areas of life.