It still amazes Jon Lovitch that his first gingerbread creation consisted of 12 homes that could fit in 4 square feet and now he creates a display of 2,300 of them at the Hall of Science.
He notes how he went from a Missouri town with 2,000 people with one gas station and one stoplight to New York City.
“It’s a very similar concept. GingerBread Lane is much like its creator,” Lovitch told the Chronicle. “I went from small to huge.”
He said seeing the work is “awe-inspiring” but he’s his own worst critic.
“All these people were like, ‘Oh, this is beautiful.’ ‘This is amazing.’ ‘You’re so talented.’ And all I see is a house where a tree fell off, broken candy canes. I never got the partridge in the pear tree done for the festival,” Lovitch said.
The display at the NYSCI runs through Jan. 12. On that day, from 2 to 5 p.m., gingerbread houses will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis until every piece is gone.
Lovitch remembers people taking photos of his work with disposable cameras early in his career, motivating him to create more.
“Now you can edit it on your phone and add moustaches and stars and reindeer noses and every other damn thing,” he said.
Lovitch prides himself on his work. “I get a chance to create an atmosphere that takes them away from whatever’s going on ... for a few minutes I get the opportunity to create a feeling or an emotion for people that completely takes them away from what’s going on in the world,” he said.
He flew with his wife to Norway to view a gingerbread village there and bury the hatchet after a war of words over who had the world’s biggest one.
“Their’s is just stunningly beautiful. If there’s anybody that would break my record, if they ever could get it together and do it, I’d be all for it,” he said.
Lovitch added, “I definitely still have the record over them.”
He remembered an attempt from India to break the record. “I was really pissed off because it was just so ugly looking. It was just slapped together. It was terrible,” Lovitch said, adding that it “looked like hell.”
Lovitch said he knows someone will break his record eventually and that he has some advice for anyone interested.
“Know what you’re getting yourself into and make it beautiful. Make it art.”