Ukrainian mayor visits Troy to honor late artist Pereyma

Longtime Troy artist, recognized in both Ohio and Ukraine, had once lived in Mayor Kelichavyi’s town

TROY — The mayor of a western Ukraine community visited Troy last week to honor and celebrate a common treasure — the art and life of the late Aka Pereyma.

Mayor Bogdan Kelichavyi of Kopychyntsi municipality, Ukraine, spent part of Sept. 19 visiting locations of Pereyma’s work around Troy including the Sunrise, Sunset, High Noon mural on the Mayflower Theater building on the Public Square’s northwest quadrant, the Jacob’s Ladder metal sculpture downtown and works at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center.

He also shared lunch with relatives of Aka Pereyma and her husband, Constantine Pereyma, MD, who died in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Both had family ties to Kelichavyi’s Ukrainian city/region. Aka Pereyma once lived in the Kopychyntsi municipality, and she was recognized as an Outstanding Ukrainian Artist by the Ukrainian government in 2001.

After marriage, the Pereymas emigrated to the United States and moved to Troy in 1959.

Kelichavyi’s interest in the artist and her work was sparked by his town’s celebration this year at its museum of the Year of Aka Pereyma. She had visited the community around 1996, when the mayor, now 30, was a young child.

“She came to the town herself and gave us some ceramic art that she made. We still have them and sometimes we expose them to the public,” Kelichavyi said as he visited the downtown Troy mural.

“I think it’s great,” he said of the mural. The style of her art — she was known for Ukrainian pysanky decorated eggs, along with metal and other sculpture, ceramics, painting and textiles — caught his eye.

“I like Aka’s art, its uniqueness. It is not traditional. She had her own style,” he said.

When Pereyma was selected for the museum honor, before his country was plunged into war with Russia, Kelichavyi said he knew he would be coming to Ohio this month for an international gathering of city managers. He looked up Troy and found it wasn’t far from the conference location.

“I thought it would be good to reach out to somebody because I was thinking that Aka was known in Troy,” he said.

Indeed she was known in Troy and far beyond. Pereyma showcased her Ukrainian heritage in artwork throughout her life. In 2003, she was labeled a living cultural treasure by the Ohio Arts Council, in its Ohio Heritage Fellows program.

Kelichavyi made contact with Troy City Hall and traveled to Troy, where he was given a whirlwind, brief tour of Pereyma art before the luncheon with Pereyma’s daughters and others.

Mayor Robin Oda was among those who accompanied the mayor. She said she was impressed by Kelichavyi, who has been mayor for two years. The city, she said, “loved being able to have him here.”

Kopychyntsi is located away from the current fighting in Ukraine, but the ongoing war has impacted everyone, he said.

“We are lucky ones. We are safe and doing a lot of humanitarian work,” he said. The community has received people displaced by the war, helping with food, money and other needs. The local hospital has treated civilians, injured including those from a nearby town that was struck by missiles recently.

Local men have also gone to the front lines to help defend Ukraine. Three have died there, Kelichavyi said.

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