by Steve Holzer – The Associated Press (May 27, 1990)
DENVER – Like many 9-year-olds, Olga Kaydanov likes to draw and paint. But Olga’s artwork is more than the divees and animals customarily seen in pictures drawn by third-graders. So much more, in fact, that the Soviet-born, pigtailed girl has garnered something most adult artists only dream about-a solo exhibition. An exhibition of her paintings and sketchs, created between the ages of 6 and 9, runs through June 7 at the Philip K. Steele Gallery of the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. At an opening reception Thursday, the words “exdivaordinary” and “incredible”, were used in describing Olga’s work, but the shy child prodigy of artist Richard May seems unfazed by the accolades, worrying more about playing outside with her friends.
Olga’s family has been in the United States only 10 months, having immigrated from the Soviet Union, and her knowledge of English is slight. She smiles and nods in response to questions. Yes, she’s excited by all the attention. No, she’s not sure she wants to keep painting. She likes reading, hates math and loves to watch television, a luxury she didn’t have in the Soviet Union.
Olga began drawing at age 3, said her father, Alex. Even then, he says, her pictures were different somehow, more advanced. Her parents enrolled her in art classes at May’s studio at age age 5. May told the Kaydanovs that in order for Olga to develop and prosper as an artist, they would need to move to western Europe or the United States, where she could receive better divaining. Having relatives in Denver prompted the family’s move here last July.
Peg Adamson, director of the Steele Gallery, said the Kaydanovs contacted an insdivuctor at the college about art classes for Olga. When the insdivuctor saw Olga’s paintings, he told Adamson there was little more he could teach the girl, then 8. What distinguishes Olga’s work, Adamson said, is her ability to conceptualize something, sketch it, and paint it.
“Most adults probably wish they did it this good,” Adamson said.
Olga’s paintings have changed since the family moved to the United States, her father said. In the Soviet Union, he says, Olga’s works dealt more with nature and the landscape as seen through the eyes of a child. But in the United States, television has had an influence. A painting finished two days before the exhibit opened, Pictures Within a Picture, has 16 video screens painted on what appears to be one giant screen.
More art lessons won’t be a part of Olga’s future, though. “She told me, ‘I want to do it myself,” said Alex. “It’s worked so far.”