Art, then and now

Con­tem­po­rary artists are show­ing their child­hood works to show “My Kid Could Do That.”

Metro USA (New York) - - Wknd - EVA KIS @thi­siskis [email protected]

When it comes to artists, the con­ven­tional wis­dom is they were born with ta­lent. But as you’ll see at the first- ever “My Kid Could Do That” art show, the child­hood cre­ations of pro­fes­sional artists don’t al­ways hint at fu­ture gallery ma­te­rial.

The free show, tak­ing place April 29 at Red Bull Arts New York in Chelsea, will dis­play mod­ern and child­hood works side-by­side from 24 es­tab­lished con­tem­po­rary artists like sur­re­al­ist sculp­tor Daniel Ar­sham, “light painter” Gri­manesa Amoros and Dan­ish ar­chi­tect Ola­fur Elias­son.

“These folks were given a chance to cre­ate when no one thought they would be­come such in­form­ers of our cul­tural iden­tity,” says Adarsh Alphons, founder of Pro­jec­tArt, a group of artist-ed­u­ca­tors who hold af­ter-school art classes at li­braries in New York, Detroit and Mi­ami, with plans to ex­pand to Chicago, L.A. and Pittsburgh. “What is more bi­o­graph­i­cal, and at the same time re­lat­able to every­one, than works that were cre­ated when no one could imag­ine who they would turn out to be?”

Alphons found the artists through his net­work and even con­tacted some out of the blue. “A lot of them were like, ‘What an odd re­quest — wait, maybe my mom has some­thing,’” and mailed him art from the at­tics, walls and base­ments of their fam­i­lies’ homes.

The pieces were cre­ated at var­i­ous ages, from as young as 4 up to 17. While you can see some of these kids al­ready had a unique point of view — like ab­stract painter Katherine Brad­ford’s mother and baby ele­phants, de­picted stand­ing up rather than sideways — most look just like, you guessed it, some­thing your kid could’ve done.

The child­hood works are not for sale — “it’s kind of out of the bounds of the com­mer­cial art world” — but the con­tem­po­rary works are all be­ing auc­tioned at a ben­e­fit din­ner on April 28, with part of the pro­ceeds ben­e­fit­ting Pro­jec­tArt (tick­ets are still avail­able).

Art ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren is a per­sonal cause for Alphons. His con­stant doo­dling wasn’t ap­pre­ci­ated by his strict Catholic ele­men­tary school in In­dia, which ex­pelled him.

It wasn’t un­til an art teacher at his next school nur­tured 7-year-old Al-

phons’ ta­lent that his aca­demics be­gan to flour­ish, too. He even gave one of his draw­ings to Nel­son Man­dela on a visit to his school. “It kind of just blew my mind — art brought me to this place, to this mo­ment,” he re­calls.

It’s the same op­por­tu­nity Alphons hopes to give oth­ers with “My Kid Could Do That,” which also in­cludes a free af­ter­noon work­shop for kids: “These could be my kids, these could be your kids, this could be a kid strug­gling in a school in Kenya — you never know, so let’s give them a chance to express them­selves cre­atively and see what hap­pens.”

COUR­TESY OF THE ARTIST AND PRO­JEC­TART

Rashaad New­some cre­ated “In­te­rior Field” in 2011. To the right is a paint­ing he did at age 14.

COUR­TESY OF THE ARTIST AND PRO­JEC­TART

Left, Katherine Bern­hardt’s “Re­clin­ing Nude” (2016); right, a self- por­trait at age 17

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