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."