If you ask for one thing this Easter, let it be clear sinuses.
It takes Bellefonte’s Mark Ivicic somewhere between four and six hours to complete one pysanka, a Ukrainian variation on the Easter egg that uses a combination of dye and wax to create intricate patterns and designs.
The final product is both visually arresting and an exercise in freewheeling empathy. You can’t really admire the texture of the thing without taking notice of the devil in the details, haunted by the image of a man hunched over a dining room table somewhere, sweat on his brow and a wax dispenser trembling in his fingertips.
All of which brings us back to those pesky sinuses.
“Don’t ever do an egg when you’ve got a cold or a cough with a sneeze,” Ivicic said.
Don’t ever do an egg when you’ve got a cold or a cough with a sneeze.
Broken shells are good for omelets and bad for art, but Ivicic swears that this process is actually relaxing, operating on a sliding-scale of serenity where by having only one thing to worry about — as opposed to the approved list of about 500 or so — could be viewed as something of a reprieve.
This, by the way, is coming from a guy who until about six years ago had no artistic impulse whatsoever, just an aunt who traveled to Croatia once upon a time.
She returned to her peacock farm in Zion with a pysanka habit and more than enough beeswax to go around.
“Her eggs were very detailed, intricate and ornate,” Ivicic said.
His own work fell subject to the slow but steady pull of evolution, simple designs that eventually yielded to more complex patterns and imagery as he gained command over the process.
Every egg I do I can see the progression. I get better with every single egg I do and that’s a reward.
The exact distance between Novice Town and the great state of Proficiency can be measured somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 eggs, almost half of which Ivicic has given away as gifts.
Pysanky tradition frowns upon stingy artists, forcing a guy to rely on other, more intangible, incentives.
“Every egg I do I can see the progression. I get better with every single egg I do and that’s a reward,” Ivicic said.
The same goes for the blue ribbon his eggs took home from last summer’s Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair. On Sunday, Ivicic will kick off his first exhibit, from 1-4 p.m. at the Bellefonte Art Museum, by discussing his technique with anyone who cares to join.
In keeping with the spirit of the season, the show will continue to run through Easter. Ivicic is pleased — not only for the opportunity to be recognized as an artist, but to make a fitting tribute to his late aunt.
“I never would have done anything like this without her,” Ivicic said.
If you go
What: Pysanky Ukranian Egg Art by Mark Ivicic
When: opening reception 1-4 p.m. Sunday; show runs through April 16
Where: Bellefonte Art Museum, 133 N. Allegheny St., Bellefonte