Early Stella or Kindergarten Painter?by Fred Ross
When my son was 6 years old, his arts and crafts teacher in first grade had the children paint abstractly, and Gregory painted something that was rather colorful but as instructed, it was without form or meaning. He was proud of it at the time (He's 31 now) and he asked me to frame it nicely like all the paintings we had hanging in our home.
I happened to have an antique expensive gold frame just the right size, and I framed and hung it in his bedroom in the back facing out so you could see it from the hallway.
About 3 months later, an art dealer who professed to love modern art, but who traded in the 19th century to 'earn living', was in our house trying to sell me something. I gave him a tour of the collection and he clearly looked down his nose at all of the "sentimental" works from the 19th Century.
When we came to the landing on our second floor and he could see through the doorway to Gregory's painting, he gasped as he looked at it from a distance of perhaps 30 feet.
I tried to explain, but he assertively shushed me up...."Don't tell me!"
"Early Stella!" he proclaimed, and then went walking into my son's room towards the object of his interest with firm and sure strides intent on proving his guess right, and thereby the value of his experience and expertise.
On either side of him as he entered the room were stuffed animals, games and toys of every size and color and shape. His face flushed As he stopped perhaps 18 inches from the work, growing steadily brighter with each pregnant moment, nearly matching exactly the fire-engine red so prominent in Gregory's watercolor which was complimented by several large patches of Kelly green.
"My son did that" I nearly whispered.
A strange noise seemed to gurgle in his chest, gaining speed it burst out of his mouth as he cleared his throat with a wet croaking sound that to this day I cannot quite find the words to describe.
"He's very talented!" he nearly yelled, and immediately wheeled around on one foot an about face... marched out of the room, his coat sweeping around knocking over a variety of beanie babies in its gust.
Neither of us uttered another word about the incident, but he did seem to rush through the rest of his visit at a noticeably increased pace.
I never saw him again, but I feel I owe him a great deal of gratitude for having supplied me with one of the best stories ever, that exemplifies so many of the points I make about Modern art.