Friday, March 11, 2005

Cracking the White House up

Valley divas head to D.C. for egg show

Express Staff Writer

Page Klune, left, artist Lynn Stallard and Terry Tischer are taking an Easter basket to the First Lady. The poster of the painting on Stallard's egg is behind them. Express photo by Dana DuGan

Ketchum artist Lynn Stallard is the fourth in a line of Wood River Valley artists who've been chosen to decorate an egg for the White House at Easter time.

With three of her friends, Page Klune, Terry Tischer and New York artist Mary Rolland, she'll be heading to the White House with the other state artists the weekend before Easter.

The 2005 Easter Egg Collection continues the tradition that began in 1994 when Hilary Clinton was the First Lady. She initiated the annual event as a way to "showcase the best of America."

The American Egg Board coordinates choosing one artist from each state to decorate an egg for the display.

Last year, Debbie Edgar Sturges painted the White House egg from Idaho. Ginna Lagergren made it in 2003 and Katrina Marcroft did the honors in 2002. All three hail from Hailey.

Though the eggs are most often painted, many have become increasingly elaborate and decorative. One year, Washington State's egg was encrusted with crystals and flowers with the Space Needle embedded inside. The Connecticut egg one year looked like an acorn, complete with green body and brown top. A Wisconsin artist recognized Harley Davidson's 100 birthday last year by encasing her egg in black leather with the Harley logo and a small chain around it. There have been teapot eggs, animal eggs and a feathered egg. Massachusetts sent an egg with a schooner sailing through the opening.

Stallard's egg has an interesting history. In 2002, a painting of hers called "On the Road Again" sold at the Sagebrush Gallery to the organizers of the 18th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. They subsequently used the painting to represent Idaho on the poster, on souvenir magnets, key chains and the gathering's program.

A representative of the Egg Board saw the painting, and last fall asked Stallard to reproduce the work on an egg. She based the painting on a cattle drive she'd taken years before with Carey rancher John Peavy. It features a lone cowboy on horseback following a trail by a cabin with the Sawtooths in the background. It's a lot of ground to cover on one little egg.

"Painting on an egg was (terribly) difficult. I had to buy little tiny brushes to do it," Stallard said. "And I couldn't see."

The American Egg Board sponsors the annual four-week display in the White House. Every year, each state and the District of Columbia may submit one egg to the display. The winning artists and guests are invited to the White House. Afterwards, the eggs are displayed at the Presidential Library in its permanent collection. Each entry must represent a special feature of each state and be painted on a large white chicken egg with the contents removed.

Along with an artist's luncheon and tour of the White House, Stallard and her entourage plan to present First Lady Laura Bush with an Easter basket with Fortunate Dog Cookies (which Tischer and Stallard produce) for her two Scottish Terriers, Mrs. Beazly and Barney.

For the group of self described "three lust-keteers," the visit to the nation's capitol should be a complete crack up.

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