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.