‘My Kid Could Paint That’ film is coming

  • Mar. 31, 2008 10:00 a.m.

Submitted by Jack Litrell, HG Film Society-In the span of only a few months, 4 year-old Maria Olmstead rocketed from total obscurity into international renown, and sold over $300,000 dollars worth of paintings. She was compared to Kandinsky and Pollock, and called “a budding Picasso.” Inside Edition, The Jane Pauley Show, and A/PR did pieces, and The Today Show and Good Morning America got in a bidding war over an appearance by the bashful toddler. There was talk of corporate sponsorship, with the family fielding calls from The Gap and Crayola.But not all the attention was positive. From the beginning, many faulted her parents for exposing Maria to the glare of the media and accused the couple of exploiting their daughter for financial gain. Others felt her work was, in fact, comparable to the great Abstract Expressionists, but saw this as emblematic of the meaninglessness of Modern Art. “She is painting exactly as all the adult painters have been in the past 50 years, but painting like a child, too. That is what everybody thinks, but they don’t dare to say it,” said Oggi, the leading Italian weekly. Through no intention of her own, Maria revived the age-old question, ‘what is art?’And then, five months into Maria’s new life as a celebrity and just short of her fifth birthday, a bombshell dropped. CBS’s 60 Minutes aired an expose suggesting strongly that the paintings were painted by her father, himself an amateur painter. As quickly as the public built Maria up, they tore her down. The New York Post asked whether “the juvenile Jackson Pollock may actually be a full-fledged Willem de Frauding,” the Olmsteads were barraged with hate mail, ostracized around town, sales of the paintings dried up, and Maria’s art dealer considered moving out of Binghamton. Embattled, the Olmsteads turned to the filmmaker to clear their name. Torn between his own responsibility as a journalist and the family’s desire to see their integrity restored, the director finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a situation that can’t possibly end well for him and them, and could easily end badly for both.The film shows Friday, April 11 at the Skidegate United Church, and Saturday, April 12 at the Masset Green Church. Showtime is at 7:30 pm

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