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Cards by Opanas Zalyvakha

During the years after we had settled in Chicago, my parents tried to maintain contact with their family in Ukraine.  This was difficult, because any outward attempts to communicate could endanger those living under the Soviets, and would also elicit undue attention to my father's other activities conducted on behalf of Ukraine. 

Our most reliable contact was Luba Lemyk, an aunt in Ivano-Frankivsk.  The letters would be sent addressed to my mother's workplace, in her maiden name.  Return mail was handwritten by me.  The letters often contained cryptic questions and responses.  My parents also sent Luba "banderoli", or packages with clothes, beads and other beading materials, embroidery thread and the like.  They, in turn, sent us books, records, embroidery and the like.  We once received the embroidered parts of a boy's shirt, for my son - and were surprised to learn, when Valik Moroz later moved to Chicago, that he had a shirt with the identical pattern.  The "Kosmatsky Berdnyky" or beaded necklaces we received prompted me to begin stringing beads.

Many years we would receive Christmas or Easter greetings from Luba.  Nearly always these were handmade cards, created from the block prints of Opanas (Panas) Zalyvakha.  Often the prints were hand-colored; at times the entire card was an original drawing.

Smoloskyp in New York worked to inform the free world about repressions in Ukraine and also ran a publishing house.  They reprinted "samvydav" (self-published materials) and other works smuggled out of Soviet Ukraine.  These were distributed in the US, Canada and other countries and also found their way back into Ukraine by various clandestine channels.  In the mid-1970's Smoloskyp reprinted two of Opanas's cards in its Christmas and Easter greetings and fund-raisers.  Both were labeled as Ukrainian Art, design reprinted from "samvydav" - card - artist unknown; one also contained a greeting from Nina Strokata-Karavan'ska and Stefania Shabatura, the other Vasyl Symonenko's poem "Vyrostes' ty synu."

Opanas continued to create these greeting cards after Ukrainian independence.  Besides holiday greetings, he also made prints to commemorate various community events.

Shown here is a selection of the block print cards of Opanas Zalyvakha.

- Dora