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By Denise Coffee
Special to The PREVIEW
Pagosa Springs artist Valentina Bezney is one of the local talents currently featured in The ART of it ALL 2 — a national juried exhibition at SHY RABBIT Contemporary Arts.
Bezney was born in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, has lived in the United States since 1950. She grew up in upstate New York, and subsequently relocated to Loveland, followed by Dallas, Tex., and finally Pagosa Springs.
While living in Texas with her husband, Alex, and their two sons, Bezney got involved in the work of the Institute of Texan Cultures by participating in cultural events with her Ukrainian Pysanky art.
A Pysanka (Ukrainian: plural: Pysanky) is a Ukrainian Easter egg, decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs using a wax-resist (batik) method. The word Pysanka comes from the verb Pysaty, which means “to write,” as the designs are not painted on, but rather “written” in hot wax with a stylus or a pin-head.
The art of the decorated egg in Ukraine, or the Pysanka, dates back to ancient times. As in many ancient cultures, Ukrainians worshipped a sun god (Dazhboh). The sun was important — it warmed the earth and thus was a source of all life. Eggs decorated with nature symbols became an integral part of spring rituals, serving as benevolent talismans.
Since Ukrainian Independence in 1991, there has been a rebirth of the art in its homeland.
Bezney pursued her Ukrainian Pysanky art with a fervor, teaching it to her two sons as well as numerous others in the U.S. and Europe (Kiev, Moscow, St. Petersburg, etc.).
Recognition followed when Pysanky was selected for the Texas Sesquicentennial Art Exhibit in 1986-87 by the Laguna Gloria Art Museum of Austin.
The highest quality of art in mixed media was awarded by the 500 Inc., 1987 Artfest in Dallas, Tex.
Austin Children’s Museum chose her Pysanky for the “Kitchens & Cultures Exhibit” in 1988. The exhibit toured selected cities in the United States through 1991.
The award of merit was presented by the Memorial Art Gallery during the 1990 Art Show in Rochester, N.Y.
Bezney’s Pysanky have been displayed and sold at numerous art galleries and shops throughout the U.S. including the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, Tex.
Traditional symbols and designs from all parts of Ukraine are incorporated in Bezney’s themes. Additionally, contemporary influence is reflected in the unique color combinations and styling. She has also been recognized for her diversity and range of subject matter and for using the Pysanka art form as a living and evolving medium.
This diverse, all-media national juried exhibition features 90 original works of art by 46 emerging to nationally recognized artists from 15 states and is on display through Jan. 11.
The range of artworks include: contemporary basketry, fiber, bronze and ceramic sculptures, collage, digital, hand-formed recycled stainless steel sculptures, mixed media, paintings, fine and re-purposed furniture, fine art prints, drawings, photography, assemblage, ceramics, wax-resist egg shells, fabric art quilts, and glass, among others.
Among the lengthy roster of artists selected for display are several Pagosa Country residents, including Valentina Bezney, Todd Condon, Kathie Disner, Linda Echterhoff, Charla Ellis, Buster Griggs, Ursala Hudson, Ivy King, Susan Martin-Serra, Polly McLaughlin, Dee Pitchon and Clay Vyzralek.
SHY RABBIT is located at 333 Bastille Drive; two blocks north of U.S. 160, off of North Pagosa Boulevard, in uptown Pagosa Springs, and is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at no charge.
For more information call 731-2766. For more information on exhibitions, please visit http://www.shyrabbit.com/Exhibits.html.