Thank You for a Child in Arkansas

Yesterday I got a very important phone call. I didn’t realize how important it was at first…


Voice of a child: “Hi Lea. This is J.  Do you still have my art? Do you remember me?”

“Um, can you give me another clue, J?”

“Yeah, I made some art for you in your art place last year. Do You still have it?”

“Well, J, if you made art for me I still have it, but I moved the studio into a smaller place downtown. So it’s probably put away in a safe place there.”

I had a sudden memory surge as I recognized the name and recalled the child who came to my art studio last year from next door while his mother was away giving blood at the Plasma Clinic so she could buy groceries.

Last year my art studio was in a huge warehouse next to a low income apartment complex. Many folks would stop by to see what I was painting on their way to and from the apartments via the parking lot in front of my open garage door. Some of the adults would stop to smoke a cigarette and tell me about the latest crisis at the apartment complex or an idea they had to move to Chicago or how their teenage daughter got beat up by some thugs…

Some of the kids from the building would play in the parking lot (there was no yard in the complex). Often, I invited the kids into the studio to work at a table with pastels or watercolors while I painted across the room. A couple of them were very quick to catch on to the techniques I showed them and some would work diligently to create their “masterpiece”.

J was one that seemed to “need” to create art. I gave him some art supplies of his own a few days before I saw him following his mother and siblings through the parking lot to the bus stop—all of them carrying a bag. J shouted; “Bye Lea, we’re movin’ to Arkansas!” His mother waved and said “Thanks for everything, we have to be near family”. 

“Actually, I just remembered exactly where your art is, J. I put it in a special drawer in my new studio.”

“Cool! I wanted to tell you that I’m still an artist. There’s a guy here in Arkansas, who lives down the road and he said I can paint there!”

“That’s great, J! Do you have my e-mail address?”

“Yeah, it’s on this card you gave me last year.”

“Well, keep in touch and tell me about your art career, okay?”

“Okay. Thanks for the art stuff!”

I went to my studio yesterday and found four of the paintings that J made. 

One of them had his signature on it, over and over again.

I had told him the most important part of an artist’s work is the signature, that the signature is what gave the work value in society.

Thank you J, for reminding me about value in society.


~ by leakelley on August 14, 2008.

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