A Tale of Two Artists

Leo Burton is a Herron Morton Place resident, 7th grader at Center for Inquiry #27, and frequent HCA First Friday attendee. Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 1.16.25 PM

It was a cold January 6th and people were gathered at a certain art gallery called the Harrison Center for the Arts. But to one child, it was “a boring adult event.” This child was the son of a rather chatty mother, so naturally (as a six-year-old) his legs began to wander along with his brain.

He wound up in a room filled with paintings, and many thoughts went through his mind. Unfortunately, the speech of a child can never match his articulate thoughts; and by the time he grows up, he forgets.


He walked around trying to solve the mystery of how adults can stare at painted pictures for such a long period of time. Losing patience, the boy went to find his mother to go home. But on the way out, a particular painting caught his eye. How odd! The artist could not have been much older than he was. Fascinated, he paused to stare at the painting that could have been done by him.

A dull tapping on his shoulder brought him to reality. It was his mother encouraging him to go. In the car on the way home, he thought about how a child like himself could have a painting in the same room as professionals. He decided to ask his mother about it. The next day, his mother took him back to find somebody to explain what the room meant. An experienced volunteer at the gallery explained that the exhibit was a retrospective. He did not understand the word.


The lady kindly explained that a “retrospective” is a group of paintings all done by a single artist. Apparently, that artist was Kyle Ragsdale. The boy was shocked and impressed that this was all one man’s paintings. Then the lady explained that he made all of them over a period of years. She pointed to a painting that had caught his attention the previous night. “That’s why these paintings look like they were done by a six-year old, because they were.” He was blown away at how Mr. Ragsdale had put up art at such a young age. (He didn’t understand that he had saved it all and hung it up a few weeks ago.) The child was inspired.

He spent a lot of his time the next day drawing. To his disappointment, his drawings resembled simple squiggly lines. He felt rather discouraged and expressed his feelings to his mother. She thought for a few minutes, then took him back to the gallery where they had seen the “Ragsdale Retrospective.” They proceeded to the section with the six-year old Mr. Ragsdale paintings. His mother pointed; the kid looked, thought, then realized that they looked exactly the same as his! The child thought; the mother waited…

Later at the house he was drawing like a machine, a mountain of scribble-filled papers. As he finished a particularly scribbly one, his mom called him for lunch. He brought in the drawing and hung it on the fridge. His mother informed him that they were going back to the gallery. After lunch, they left.

Later, at the gallery, he was examining Mr. Ragsdale’s most recent work.  “So will I draw like that in the future?” he thought aloud. “Yes,” said a mysterious voice. “Yes, I do.” The child whipped around to meet a taller man’s gaze. Later, his train of thought was interrupted by his mother calling him. “Honey, did you see that man walk through here?” He nodded. The mother smiled. “That was Mr. Ragsdale!”