What Came First?
Answer this age old question by coming to see the chicken- and egg-related art at Gallery 48 Natoma in Folsom, California. I am unbelievably excited about this show which runs March 16-May 3, 2018 in a beautiful gallery space. You can meet the artists at the opening reception on March 16 from 6 to 8 PM.
Gallery at 48 Natoma
48 Natoma Street
Folsom, CA 95630
I will also be teaching classes at this venue in April. Click here for more information.
A Solo Gallery Show by Teresa Mihalko Harbert
April 2 through May 7, 2017
at the Art & Soul Gallery of Oak Hills Church
1100 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom CA 95630
Probably the number one question I am asked about this art called pysanky is, “Are they real eggs?” The answer? Yes, they are very real eggs. God created an engineering marvel with those shells, sturdy enough to withstand the mama bird’s weight as she keeps them warm before they hatch and yet designed so the baby bird can still peck its way through to life on the outside.
Over the years I have accidentally broken eggs at every stage in this creative wax-and-dye process. From exploding an egg while emptying it, to smashing one as I reach for it on my work area, to bobbling another as I remove layers of wax, and even dropping one or two as I proudly tried to admire my finished work of art.
Frustration does not adequately describe my feelings each time this happens. And after mourning the loss and cursing my clumsiness I eventually reach for another egg and begin all over again.
This solo exhibition show has been a long time in coming. It is the joy of creation and the pain of loss all tangled up in thoughts and eggshells. Let me take you on my art and faith journey from the initial idea to the actual show you will see in the Art & Soul gallery.
It all starts with my love for tiny details. I actually crave the quiet hours alone required to create these eggs. That’s my time to push away the busyness of the “regular” world and focus on one small thing at a time. And once in a while as I work God gives me an idea to ponder. This time it started with the eggshells themselves.
The show title, Fragile Canvas, came quickly and I knew that somehow I needed to demonstrate it, not just tell about it. I decided to create an egg and then break it on purpose for a photo for the show’s title page. Creating the egg was a joy, but I was surprised at how reluctant I felt when the time came to break it. It was much more emotional than I expected.
I finally got out my camera and readied the photo shoot area. Then I took a few minutes to marvel at the designs and color choices on my finished egg’s surface. This goose egg had been such a pleasure to work on because it was unusually smooth. Most goose eggs have small bumps and pits on their surface so the wax lines appear to waver as they move across the egg. Dyes don’t always adhere as brightly either but this particular egg behaved perfectly every step of the way. Looking at the finished egg I started to doubt myself, did I really need to break it?
I wrestled with my decision quite a while before bringing the egg down sharply onto my desk. Hearing that distinctive “crack” actually sent a shiver up my spine and I felt an immense sense of loss. I had changed that egg forever with one swift movement of my hand.
As I inspected the damage and gently picked up the pieces, I marveled at the beauty of the egg, even in its broken state. This is where God again gently spoke, reminding me that our lives are also fleeting and must be handled with great care. We are all made of fragile canvas and yet even in our broken state, we still have beauty.
Fragile canvases indeed.
The Fall Show 2016
The City of Rancho Cordova is doing a great job of promoting the arts! Visual arts, public art, and performing arts all are celebrated and supported well by the Cordova Community Council.
The Fall Show 2016 Opening Reception will be held Thursday, October 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM in the lobby of the Rancho Cordova City Hall, 2729 Prospect Drive, Rancho Cordova, California 95670. Stop by to meet the artists and enjoy the great variety of art on display .
I have three eggs on display at this show and as an added bonus I’ll be playing Baroque music with the string trio Camerata Cordova at the reception beginning at 5:30 PM.
Art and Faith
Back in 2010 I had a solo art show of my eggs in the Art & Soul Gallery of our church. It was a huge leap of faith for me because it was the first time I really connected my art with my walk with God.
It ran throughout Lent, which is traditionally forty days of preparation for the Easter celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. Fasting and prayer often accompany this time of waiting. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. A time of soul-searching and repentance.
As I gave this thought and prayer, I recalled my childhood experiences with Lent. We usually chose to give something up as a reminder to pray and to look forward to the Easter celebration to come. It took a while but gradually words bubbled to the surface to express my Lenten experience. Fasting, prayer, listening, repentance. But the story didn’t stop there. At Easter fasting becomes abundance, prayer becomes hope, listening becomes growth and repentance becomes forgiveness. God’s story of love and transformation became more real now that I had words to express it.
Now I wanted to experience and express visually what that time of preparation meant to me. So the big question…how in the world do I take this colorful, traditional art done on eggs and give the viewer a sense of my own journey of faith? Eventually this thought crossed my mind. What if I gave up the use of color on these eggs? What if I only worked in black and white? My next thought was, “Are you crazy?”
I knew my designs would have to be strong enough to stand alone, without the distraction of color. How in the world do I create interest using only lines? I’d never tried this before and I was pretty sure I’d be able to do a few but could I create enough to fill the whole show? And what if I couldn’t come up with enough material in time? What if I failed? Fear, self-doubt, and a sense of the enormity of this task sidetracked me for a while.
As the days ticked by I kept hearing a soft voice say, “Just make one egg.” So I did.
“That wasn’t so hard,” I thought. And so I made another…and another…and pretty soon the design ideas flowed until chicken, duck, goose, and finally an ostrich egg all in black and white covered every surface of my workroom.
The show looked great in the gallery but I have no idea if anyone understood what I was trying to say with these eggs. And it doesn’t matter because the important part of the show for me was what I learned along the way. Sometimes God doesn’t give you the big picture. Sometimes you just have to start the journey and not focus on the goal. And sometimes you will find a joy in that journey that surprises you.
Through February 5, 2014
Some of my eggs are on display Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM at Gallery 625 in the County Administration Building 625 Court Street, Woodland, CA 95776
Go See Dimitri
You can now find my eggs at Village Treasures in Fair Oaks Village. This eclectic shop combines jewelry services with interesting art, and fine olive oils, chocolate and honey. The owner, Dimitri Grekoff, is quite familiar not only with the art of pysanky but also with its cultural heritage. Besides that, he’s just fun to talk with, so if you’re looking for a field trip as we head into fall, wander over to Old Fair Oaks and stop in for a visit.
Village Treasures is located at 10144 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Fair Oaks, California
Floral Blues at the Kennedy
As part of the 4th Annual Spring Flower Show at the Kennedy Gallery you can see some of my classic blue and white eggs in various sizes from quail to ostrich.
Join the artists this Thursday, April 12, from 6 to 8 PM at the Preview Thursday Reception.
And don’t forget the Second Saturday Artwalk April 14 from 4 to 9 PM.
Eggs in Red at the Kennedy Gallery
The changing season brings a new pysanky display to the Kennedy Gallery. Ostrich, goose, duck, and chicken eggs in brilliant reds offer lots eye candy just in time for the holiday season. Take a peek at these and all the other art in this wonderful midtown Sacramento gallery.
New at the Ordaz Gallery
Need an excuse to go for a short drive? Come see some of my Christmas pysanky at the Ordaz Gallery in old town Auburn, California. Frank Ordaz, an award-winning oil painter, specializes in portraits and you can chat with him as he works in this downtown gallery/studio Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Black and White at the Kennedy
My eggs go formal at the Kennedy Gallery, 1114 20th Street,Sacramento,CA,95811. These black and white pysanky feature a wide variety of designs without the distraction of color.
And if you’re looking for an excuse to get out and about, Second Saturday Artwalk happens this weekend and provides a great opportunity to explore the art galleries in midtown.
In the News
Here’s a link to the May 2011 Sacramento Talent Magazine. Check out page 16 for an article on me and my eggs.
And if you want to see how they are made, come to Bella Fiore on Saturday, May 14 where I’ll be demonstrating the process from 5 to 9 PM.
Second Saturday in Fair Oaks Village
April 9, 2011 from 7 to 9 PM
Enjoy a relaxed evening at the Fair Oaks Village Second Saturday Art Walk. I’ll be a Bella Fiore Florist from 7 to 9 PM answering questions about these eggs.
In addition this Saturday evening will be a time to say farewell to current owners, Bill and Deborah Brown, and say hello to new owners, Dawn and Chris Conyers. See their blog for more details.
From now until April 30 you can see a wide assortment of my pysanky eggs at the Kennedy Gallery, 1114 20th Street, Sacramento, CA, 95811.
St John’s Art Festival
St. John’s Art Festival opens with a reception Saturday, March 12, 2011, from 5 to 9 PM at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1701 L Street, Sacramento. This collection of religious and spiritual works runs through Saturday, March 19.
One of my pieces was accepted to this show, and submitting a piece to a juried art show is scary, there is just no way around that. Fear can keep an artist from sharing and sometimes even creating work. I know because I’m all too familiar with the self-talk that tells me my pysanky eggs are just a “little thing I do” and not really art.
When I stopped to think about my art-related fears, I realized they mirror my personal fears. “Will-anyone-else-like-my-eggs” is really just me saying “will-anyone-else-like-me?” “My-art-is-no-good” becomes “I-am-no-good,” and on and on.
I know to survive as an artist I must learn to separate my art from own self-worth. And to grow and thrive as a person I need to embrace this separation. The tricky part is putting this simple truth into practice. But practice takes…well, practice, so one step at a time I’m working on this personal spiritual discipline by putting my art out into the “real world” beyond my comfort zone. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort.
The Art of Christmas
Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California, houses a lobby art space called the Art & Soul Gallery. This Advent season it featured “The Art of Christmas,” a very atypical collection of Christmas art The show was the result of local artists meeting together regularly for the past few months to encourage each other in creating art based on Scriptures related to Christ’s birth.
If you missed seeing the art in person, you can still enjoy our combined efforts on the Covenant Artist’s website.
Pysanky Demo at Bella Fiore Florist
Saturday August 14 from 5 to 9 PM— Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the Second Saturday experience in Fair Oaks Village and be sure to stop by Bella Fiore Florist to see firsthand the painstaking work that goes into creating these eggs.
Personally, I really enjoy the opportunity to explain how I make pysanky (Ukrainian eggs). Most people are unfamiliar with the wax-resist process and find it hard at first to envision the steps it takes, layering wax on the eggshell as it is dyed color after color. The fun part for me at these demonstrations comes when that light bulb of understanding dawns and the onlookers grasp the whole concept.
Bella Fiore’s owners, Bill and Debbie, have transformed part of their shop into an art gallery where you can see some of my pysanky as well as works by other local artists. Take some time on this Second Saturday to explore and enjoy this wonderful venue.
A gallery show has a lifecycle of its own. First comes the spark of an idea…and then hours or days of contemplating the possibilities, working out the plan in my mind. Soon I’m taking a few first steps of actual work on the eggs. This is the fun part. Yes, this will work! I am convinced I can do it. More quiet hours at my desk steadily applying fine lines of wax or waiting patiently for the dye color to be just right. This is going to be a wonderful show, I can tell already.
Usually about midway into the process come the first seeds of self-doubt. Are my designs strong enough? Did I choose the right theme? Can I complete enough work in this theme? Will I finish enough eggs by the deadline? What if I can’t do it? Am I really an artist or am I fooling myself? What if I don’t make the deadline? Should I just give up now? Why did I ever agree to this gallery? What am I doing on this earth?
Okay, take a breath, I remind myself. You can do this. Remember to focus on one egg at a time. One line at a time. The work continues, slowly but surely. As the deadline looms ever closer I realize I’m going to make it after all. The completed eggs silently cheer me on and even in the final frenzy of setting up the show with all its time consuming details, I feel a mystifying satisfaction. I know deep in my soul that I am an artist because God created me that way. And it is good.
Now to start my next show.
New Show at Art & Soul Gallery
Lent:Reflections in Black and White
February 21-April 18, 2010
Art & Soul Gallery
Oak Hills Church, Folsom, California
Lent is a time of preparation for the Easter celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. Historically the Church sets aside the forty days of Lent for fasting and prayer, imitating Christ’s forty day experience in the desert. Lent is a time of waiting. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. A time of soul-searching and repentance.
Connecting my artistic passion with my life in Christ has given me a whole new depth of awe and wonder about God, my Creator and Savior. As I contemplated this project, the first question that came to mind was, “How do I link this highly symbolic art with the season of Lent?”
Beginning with prayer and trepidation, I challenged myself to work only in black and white. Without the distraction of color, each design must truly stand on its own. I also experimented with a wide variety of designs, from simple to complex. The time it took to create each piece provided a refreshingly quiet space to contemplate this season’s purpose.
Exploring the Lenten Season through the art of pysanky has not only stretched me as an artist, it has given me a new appreciation for the history and the practice of Lent. As you wander through the gallery, take your time…slow down…and let this season sink deep into your soul as well.
Teresa Mihalko Harbert—Pysanky Eggs