Artist creates unique piece to celebrate cityâ�?�?s anniversary By David Lias
Plain Talk Vermillion's Sesquicentennial Committee had long completed its planning for the three-day celebration of the city's 150th anniversary celebration when something both unique and unexpected arrived. A carved ostrich egg, brought to Vermillion City Hall last Thursday morning by artist Brian Baity. In a special ceremony held in the city council meeting chambers as tours of the new city hall building had begun to kick-off the community's Sesquicentennial celebration, Baity presented the piece of artwork to Mayor Dan Christopherson. He also took time to answer questions asked by city council members, members of the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, and other interested citizens who were in the audience to witness the presentation. Baity, who resides in West Valley City, UT, learned during a trip to Vermillion last January that the community would be celebrating its anniversary in early August. "I wanted to contribute something back because of the fact that my family has been here for over 100 years," he said. Baity's father was born in Vermillion, and other relatives still reside in the community. "I had to do a lot of research to figure out just what images to include on this egg, because obviously the number of images is limited due to its size," Baity said while presenting his carving to the Vermillion officials. "I came to realize that the university that you have in this city is very significant for South Dakota." Featured prominently on the ostrich egg is an image of Vermillion's first city hall, etched into the egg's shell. "Since the people of Vermillion have a new city hall building in their lives every day, I chose to put the historical city hall in the design to bring both the old and the new together," he said. Baity's piece of art also includes a highly-detailed image of USD's Old Main, which serves to represent the unique role the university has played through much of the city's history. The carved egg also features a depiction of a coyote as a way of commemorating Native Americans who resided in the region before settlers arrived and established Vermillion as a community 150 years ago. Baity also carved a likeness of the state flower, the Pasque, in the shell of his unique work of art. "I wanted another image to represent the state that wasn't Mount Rushmore," he said. "I also like the way flowers look when carved in relief on the ostrich egg shells." The first egg carving by Baity currently on public display is in the Forbes Art Gallery in New York City. It features a lattice to connect circled images on the side of the eggs. Acanthus leaves grace the bottom of the design. He decided to use those same elements while carving his gift to Vermillion. Baity learned the special techniques for carving intricate designs into fragile egg shells four years ago from a dentist, who mastered the technique using a modified dentist's drill. "This is where I'm at four years later," he said. "I'm happy to share it with everyone here." It took the artist three days to lay out the design elements on the sides of the egg he presented to Vermillion last week. He devoted approximately 100 hours to complete the egg's finely detailed carvings. "We very much appreciate your generousity," Mayor Dan Christopherson told Baity. "This is an absolutely wonderful gift."