Walking on Eggshelland
by David Hansen
Cleveland Magazine, April 2006
When the last sand grain was blown from the floor of City Hall’s rotunda last October, the collective image of that Tibetan Buddhist mandala remained forever burned into the memory of all those who had seen it. Dyed fragments of pulverized stone, brought together for a brief moment in time, then scattered forever.
That’s a lot like Eggshelland, Lyndhurst’s greatest artistic achievement and my favorite harbinger of spring. For almost 50 years, Betty and Ron Manolio have decorated their front lawn with grand mosaics of colored eggs.
You can’t rely on those nutty Buddhists. But every Palm Sunday the Manolios will have laid out a grand, rainbow cross, shimmering in the sun with the bright palette that only high-gloss enamel car paint offers.
On their tiny patch on Linden Lane, you can also expect the latest hit animated film to be represented, and as this year’s theme is “Animal Antics,” it wouldn’t be hard to guess that “Madagascar” gets the featured space closest to the sidewalk. Betty tells me it will be joined by characters from “Blue’s Clues,” “Dora the Explorer” and, of course, the Easter Bunny. Eggshelland is nothing if not about the kids.
But is it art? Of course it is, don’t be a snob. If for no better reason, Eggshelland invites a sense of wonder. Wonder what they’ll surprise us with this year; will it be another sports tribute or the head of Montel Williams? Wonder if it will blizzard the day after the Manolios have painstakingly set (this year) 34,424 eggs onto little wooden pegs, the snow destroying many of them.
Fragility. Impermanence. At one with children and animals. There’s no need to go to Tibet. It’s all right there on a cul-de-sac in Lyndhurst.
Ron Manolio died Tuesday at the age of 82. Eggshelland 2013 will be the final display, and a celebration of his life and dreams. (8/11/2012)