Why can’t you appreciate art, Daddy?

After two months of preschool, my son came home with an armload of artwork he had created. Our refrigerator was wholly unprepared for a collection of this magnitude. I dare say, even a completely naked fridge would have become weak in the coils at the prospect of supporting such a volume of work.

Leave it to my wife (as I often do) to come up with a brilliant solution to this parenting dilemma. We now have an entire dining room wall covered with my son’s masterpiece paintings and drawings. My wife’s ingenious mental stone has also killed a second bird by covering up a good portion of our dining room wall paper, which no one likes but no one has the gumption to remove.

My son refers to this wall of pictures as his art folio. He is demonstratively proud of it, as are we all when we realize the passion that has been poured into creating these wonderful works of art. The works are so triumphantly abstract that we had to ask which side was up before hanging each of them; sometimes the artist seemed to have to guess the answer himself.

Art folio wall

The art folio. Somebody’s great-great-grandmother would be rolling over in her grave if she could see how we’ve covered over her favorite wall paper.

Normally, we would never insult an artist of this caliber by asking him to name the subject of each piece. But since we feel that we are on rather familiar terms with this particular artist, we have granted ourselves the privilege of asking questions that might otherwise be taboo.

frog painting

The Ghost Frog. His eyes follow you all around the room.

The artist was so kind as to describe the images to us one evening over a grilled cheese sandwich and some apple juice. “That one’s a ghost frog,” he said, pointing out what should have been obvious to us. “That one’s a ghost ship,” he continued, moving down the line. “The next one’s a Frankenstein ship, then a mozombie ship.” (Mozombies are zombies who have that little extra special mo to set them apart from your run-of-the-mill walking dead.)

finger painting

This is a Ghost Ship, or a Frankenstein Ship, or maybe a Mozombie Ship. At any rate, it’s some sort of ship; that much is obvious.

The boy took a sip of juice and pointed at the picture at the end of the row. “And,” he continued, “I’ve been trying to work on my spiders.”

drawing of spiders

He certainly has been working on his spiders, and with impressive results.

“What’s this one?” my wife asked, pointing to a picture dominated by broad, straight lines of brown.

I jumped in, thinking I would show my son how well I remembered a clue he had given me earlier. “That’s a map,” I said.

“No,” he corrected, giving me a look that questioned my faculties. “That’s a tree. It’s a dead tree because it’s winter.”

Tree in relief

The tree that shut Daddy right up. What a bumpkin that guy is!

Then I realized my mistake. It was the picture I thought looked like a microscope that was actually a map. Clearly, this one was a tree. It even had a falling limb, if the viewer were inclined to look at it, instead of shouting out ignorant guesses.

At that moment, I understood the biggest challenge facing this kid’s artistic development. He has only a few short decades in which to figure out how to keep his artistically bereft father from embarrassing him at his gallery opening.

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16 comments on “Why can’t you appreciate art, Daddy?

  1. Traci says:

    If you get really strapped for space, you can always commandeer the appliances of other people. While I have no offspring, my fridge still boasts of several pictures created by my best friend’s little artists.

  2. Oh Scott, this is just the beginning. My youngest daughter, Pilar, left for college in 2007. Mike and I had all kinds of plans for her room when she left, until , that is, we walked into it. We looked at each other, backed out and shut the door. LOL

    Pilar, God love her, thought we were keeping a shrine in her memory. She had no clue we just didn’t have the time or the will power it would take to go through everything that was thumb-tacked and yes even duct taped to her walls AND ceiling. LOL

    Two weeks ago, we finally decided it was time to start my office. We both went in, and decided who got which walls. I insisted Mike take the ceiling since I’m afraid of heights. We still haven’t figured out how a girl that grew to a height of 5’2″ could possible thumb-tack all of that sh… stuff so high.

    I have to tell you, though, that in the end we had so much fun doing this. This room was a time capsule of our youngest daughter’s life. It took us all day long because every time we’d pull something from a wall, we’d say, “Oh, do you remember this?” We’d stop and chat about it. I can’t tell you how many times I ended up in tears reminiscing about the past that day. Like Pilar, we couldn’t throw any of this stuff away. We ended up lovingly packing box after box full of this stuff to give back to her to go through.

  3. I have a binder for each child. Their art may or may not have a brief stint on the fridge before ending up in the binder. Unfortunately not all of their art fits nicely in the binder. I’m still working that part out.

  4. yearstricken says:

    He definitely has flair. I love the ghost frog.

  5. I can see the influence the great Dada artists have had on your son. In my opinion some of these could be hanging in the Tate Modern and no one would bat an eye.

  6. joshnaugle says:

    As I have mentioned before, our boys are about the same age so we are experiencing a lot of the same things around at the same time. The coolest part of the story to me is not just that he is creating artwork, but telling you what and why. Not just that it is a tree, but it is dead because it is winter. The mental development of children is a wondrous process. On another note- if someone’s great-great-grandmother decides to haunt you for covering the wallpaper, I think ghost frog has your back.

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