By Michael Torelli
Cheshire Herald Staff
Anatoly Zayaruzny was walking through his daughter’s high school nearly a decade ago when a piece of artwork caught his eye.
The illustration—entitled “Don Quixote in his Library”—was executed by one of Zayaruzny’s favorite artists, Gustave Doré. It was then that he decided he would replicate the work in his own unique way.
Now, after eight years and an estimated 1,000 hours of work, Zayaruzny has completed his interpretation of Doré’s drawing—an automaton display consisting of over 30 characters found in the original artwork.
Zayaruzny made the three-dimensional characters using molds and resin. The work is currently on display at the Cheshire Public Library.
“It was very interesting for me to try,” reflected Zayaruzny. “I’ve never made 32 characters in one scene. The maximum I’ve had (was) four, five, or six.”
Zayaruzny said he felt connected to Doré while working on his project. However, he quickly noticed some challenges while constructing a three-dimensional scene from a two-dimensional picture. Tiles in Doré’s illustration, for example, created a challenging depth of field for Zayaruzny when he placed some of the characters.
“It’s not exact,” Zayaruzny explained, of his work. “The perspective was a little bit wrong, but it’s normal for artists. I had to make it in a real perspective, so that was interesting.”
Zayaruzny knew that older incandescent light bulbs could create enough heat to damage the display, so he held off on completing his work until he could light it with LED bulbs.
“If I put a lot of lamps … it was too hot in there, so I decided to wait a little bit,” he said. “Now it’s interesting because it’s LED. It’s cold.”
The work will be on display at the Library for approximately one month. He hopes someone will purchase it and place it in a large bookstore in Europe or New York City.
Library Director Beth Crowley complimented Zayaruzny’s work, expressing her appreciation for him choosing the Library to display his creation.
“We are thrilled that Mr. Zayaruzny thought of the Cheshire Library to display this incredible work of art for our residents to enjoy,” Crowley said. “It is a beautiful piece, perfectly suited for a library setting, and has brought much joy to all those who have viewed it.”
An instrument maker native to Ukraine, Zayaruzny’s current focus is on creating street organs. Most of his works—which can include wood-carved automatons that dance to music—take a maximum of one month to complete.
He said he is the only person in the United States who makes the instrument.
“By profession, I am an economist,” Zayaruzny explained. “I never worked (in economics) because I would prefer
to make something with my hands.”
While living in Kiev, Zayaruzny found himself in a moment in history when music originating in the United States would make its way to Russia and, eventually, Ukraine.
“There were a lot of ensembles and they needed period instruments and nobody made them, so I started to,” he said.
Zayaruzny found himself making everything from lutes and flutes to drums.
Roughly 30 years ago, he and his wife Irina relocated to the United States, where he began working for a piano shop repairing instruments.
The appeal of street organs, according to Zayaruzny, is their mechanical nature.
“It’s very natural for me because I love the mechanics and I love music, so this combines mechanics and music,” he said.
Zayaruzny is looking to share his love of the street organ with others by offering classes where students will make their own instruments. He is hoping to host classes with no more than 10 students at a time.
For more information on Zayaruzny’s works or his upcoming classes, visit his website at www.zayaruzostreetorgan.com.