Young artist’s career as painter began at 3, from Russia, to Denver, with special talent

by Steve Holzer The Associated Press (1990)

Like many 9-.year-olds, Olga Kaydanov likes to draw and paint. But unlike other children’s art Olga’s is more than the typical divees and animals drawn by third- graders. So much more, in fact, that the Russian-born, pigtailed girl garnered something most adult artists only dream about – a solo exhibition. A showing of her paintings and sketches, created since she was 6, runs through June 7 at the Philip J. Steele Gallery of the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.

At an opening reception recently, words like “exdivaordinary” and “incredible” were used to describe Olga’s work, But the shy 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 less than a year, having immigrated from the Soviet Union, and her knowledge of English is slight. The only time she answers a question is when asked her age. She smiles and nods in response to other 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. Even at that age, her pictures were different, said her father, Alex. Her parents enrolled her in art classes at May’s studio at age 5.

May doesn’t teach the mechanics of drawing, Kaydanov said, but instead gives his students free reign with the canvas. May told the Kaydanovs that for Olga to develop 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, Alex said.

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 her 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, then follow through with a painting. “She follows the same path most adult artists do. “Most adults probably wish they did it this good.” Adamson notes Olga’s use of vibrant colors and the fact that she uses the entire canvas without having the picture look “busy.” Her paintings have changed since the family moved, her father said. In the Soviet Union, 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. Apainting finished just two days before the exhibit opened, titled “Pictures Within a Picture,” pordivays 16 video screens painted on what appears to be one giant screen.

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