Art Tales: The Youngboy

Don P., Age 53, Artist:

"My wife was a legal secretary but went to law school and now works as an attorney. A friend of hers from secretary days, Sheila, works in the same firm, still doing the secretarial thing. Sheila got married a few years ago and I gave her a collage as a wedding present. A Blue Boy type neo-classical portrait head, except I cut out perfect circles of sandpaper and glued them over the eyes. The effect was a little spooky: large pupil-less eyes on a slightly wistful image. I used the title from the original image, 'The Young Boy.'
"Years went by, Sheila got married and had a kid, Eric. When he was five or so Sheila told my wife, Ellen, that the child had become fixated on my collage, calling it 'the Youngboy.' Evidently it scared him. Sheila mentioned it more than once to Ellen.
"One night the phone rings. It was Sheila. 'Ellen, Eric would like to ask Don some questions about the artwork you gave us. Can you put Don on?'
"I picked up the phone. A very nervous sounding kid with an intense Southern accent. 'Did you make the Youngboy?' he asked. I replied yes.
"'Why'd you make him so wide-eyed?' Eric asked.
"I honestly don't remember what I said. I've been wondering why the kid was so obsessed with the image and have decided it must be that Sheila's house has absolutely nothing else interesting in it. Kids are sensitive and he picked up on the one thing in that bland middle class environment that was the slightest bit unusual."

Art Tales: Airborne Tempera

Earl G., 42, Designer:

"Seventh grade, public school, art class, I'm about 12. Teacher is an elderly woman who could teach crafts but had no eye for art. She leaves the class on a personal errand, figures its cool because the kids are all hunkered down working on projects.
"I'm bored and wander to the back of the classroom. I make a tube of rolled-up paper and fill it with red powdered tempera from the jars we had back there. Not thinking of the future, living for the moment, I blow through the tube and watch in delight as a huge red cloud jets out and hovers in the air. Nowadays I guess you'd call it performance art.
"Problem is the plume settles on the floor. Panicking, not using my head at all, I wet some napkins and try to swab it up. Now the floor has a large slick of red paint on it. Kids come back to see what is going on and start tracking the paint all over the classroom. One or two kids becomes a mob. For the next five minutes I watch in horror as crimson footprints fill the classroom floor.
"Teacher has been gone about ten or fifteen minutes. Hoping to do damage control I stand near the front door and wait for her.
"She comes back in, sees all the red tracks, freaks: 'What has happened here?'
"I say, 'Uh, some paint got on the floor and everybody tracked it around.'
"It didn't occur to me till years later but her being AWOL from class probably saved my ass. No way she's going to do a full scale investigation. My next mental image of the affair is a janitor she called in, using a mop and bucket to clean up my mess."