The folks who run the Copt/Feiden Holiday Gallery at 815 Mass. are on the lookout for a young boy who was in the gallery not too long ago. They figure they owe him some cash.
About two weeks ago, a young boy who looked to be about 5 years old and his mother walked into the art gallery.
The boy began asking his mother if he could go home and draw “Okay Mountain,” and asked more than once, remembered Mark Feiden, a partner in the gallery who was working that day.
“He kept asking his mom,” Feiden said. “I asked him, ‘Why don’t you just draw it right here?’ and gave him a piece of paper.”
So he did, and signed his name. Though a letter to the editor in the Journal-World last week looking for the boy called him by the name “Eli,” Feiden said it very well could have been “Eligah” from the signature on the artwork, which is all they have to go on.
Once the boy finished the relatively small drawing, Feiden asked him how much he figured the piece was worth.
“$18,” Feiden said. “He wrote $18.”
Feiden told the boy he’d be happy to hang it up in the gallery for him along with all the other art.
It wasn’t a week later when the piece caught the eye of David Allen, a Lawrence resident and a customer of the gallery.
He, too, had a son named Eli who drew from a very young age. That young Eli got lots of encouragement, went to the Montessori School and doodled and sketched throughout his youth. Today, the 19-year-old Eli is enrolled at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla.
Allen asked Phyllis Copt, who was working in the gallery at the time, about the Okay Mountain piece. She told him the story, and Allen bought it, “without hesitation,” for the $18 listed price.
“I saw that as an opportunity to be a patron of the arts, and show young artists of all ages that their work has value,” Allen said.
Copt said her letter to the editor didn’t work — Eli (or Eligah) still hasn’t shown up to collect his money. They put up a sign while they were away for the holidays saying they would return on Wednesday. But so far, nothing. So they’re still looking for him.
Allen said he hopes the artist can return to get paid for his work.
“It’s in our house,” Allen said. “It’s sitting on the mantle. It’s awaiting a frame.”