From Special Reports

It’s time to hop on down the bunny trail for an Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 31.

The McRitchie-Hollis Museum is sponsoring the event at its 74 Jackson Street location, next to the University of West Georgia Newnan campus. Participants will have the opportunity to have their photo taken with the Easter Bunny as well as hunt those treasured Easter Eggs, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Those in attendance can also see Lavinia Barron Rosenzweig’s colorful hand-painted Easter eggs, which will be on display in a mini-exhibit through Easter Sunday. “Vinnie” Rosezweig was a well-known local artist who sometimes called herself the “Easter Bunny” due to the thousands of eggs of she personalized during her lifetime.

During the 1980s Vinnie Rosezweig first began contributing to the Easter season with her brightly-painted eggs. In one news story Rosenzweig told a local reporter that she “felt like a failure compared with the cake-baking mothers” in her son’s preschool kindergarten class, so she decided to go a different direction.

“Mrs. Rosenzweig told the teacher she would make each child an egg with his name on it,” the newspaper reported. “She had been dabbling in ceramics, and the personalized Easter eggs were a big hit. So much so, in fact, that 10 years later some parents are still ordering the custom-painted eggs.”

Originally when she painted the eggs “just bundles of them” were sold in downtown stores, she said. Some store owners would buy out the eggs before they ever hit the shelves. She recalled giving an egg to a woman following an aerobics class, and “she bought the whole batch.”

Each of the ceramic eggs took Rosenzweig between two and eight hours to complete. The eggs were mostly biographical, with many of them representing specific events in the lives of the recipients. One featured a bunny on a needlepoint pillow, specially made for a needlework enthusiast; another, made for a local cheerleader, showcased a young bunny in a cheerleader uniform.

In a ledger, Mrs. Rosenzweig kept a record of eggs she painted for her customers over the years. Margaret Barron had the largest collection she knew of, numbering about 40.

Rosenzweig said she had favorites among the eggs she painted, one of them belonging to Catharine Barron. She made Catharine an egg with a black background covered with Swatch watches. One of the watches had a small rabbit face with rabbit ears for the hands of the watch.

For classical music lover Jim Hardy, Rosenzweig painted on a large, lilac egg the first two measures of the first violin part of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. A bunny’s face appeared in the lower part of a treble clef on the egg.

“I went straight to my music books” for Hardy’s egg, she said, nothing that the notes and accent marks were accurate.

Another favorite egg was one owned by Bobby Lee, an avid hunter and a member of Ducks Unlimited. Rosenzweig said Lee’s egg had a bright blue background covered in wildly quacking white ducks with orange bills and legs. She named this particular egg “Unlimited Ducks.”
“And that has remained one of my all-time favorite eggs,” she said.

Her past Easter eggs have included a batch of about a dozen women in elaborate Easter bonnets. She said she would love to know what became of those eggs, which were sold in a downtown store.

The first step in painting her eggs involved covering them with about four coats of stain, “and that’s real simple, idiot work,” she said. She also gave her eggs a lot of drying time in-between coats before decorating them and then spraying them with a high-gloss “fix it” spray.
Rosenzweig signed the back of all of her eggs “Vin Rose,” an abbreviated form of her lengthy name. For about two years her sister, Carolyn Watford, helped prepare the eggs, and those eggs were signed “Cal Vin.”

On a mantle in Rosenzweig’s house on Greenville Street sat a number of eggs painted for her family. A “Super Mario Bunny” egg for her son Gray indicated her son’s interest in Nintendo video games, and an egg belonging to a daughter Guion featured a rabbit in one of Guion’s Halloween costumes.

Rosenzweig had a master’s degree in music, and was a well-known local thespian, but she had been  interested in the visual arts “since I could hold a crayon,” she said, and eventually studied  under Tom Powers, the namesake of the now-defunct Powers Crossroads Festival.

Rosenzweig’s eggs became more detailed over the years. Two years in a row she made about 300 eggs for Easter, but she always tried to paint at least 20 to 40 eggs each year.

The museum is open from 10-3 Tuesday through Saturday.