Michael and Dean DiPrinzio

Michael and Dean DiPrinzio, At the Pond I See Frogs and Dragon Flies, crayon on wood

Michael and Dean DiPrinzio, The Great Outdoors at The Plastic Club

I have been thinking about this piece for a while because of a comment a friend made. We were joking that the juror was blind; a top Philadelphia painter picked Gene Renzi’s amazing Hay Harvest@Newtown, silver-print photograph, over Lilliana Didovic’s Second Prize painting, One Philly Sky. Yes, we joke. But what struck me was my friend commented that there was one piece that looked like ‘a kid did it’.

In fact a kid, Dean, has been collaborating with his father Michael for half a decade, he’s about nine years old. Michael and Dean have a semi-annual art show at Da Vinci Art Alliance and participate regularly in the local arts scene. Their artwork is naive, joyful, childlike, and an authentic collaboration on all levels. My friend was tricked by the simplicity of what he was seeing in this crayon drawing because there is a simplicity, the marks are runes, symbols of communication that instills the work, making it memorable. The theme of the show was The Great Outdoors, Michael and Dean collaborated on what that idea meant by talking about it, then making the marks, entering the show and exhibiting.

The father/son relationship regarding art is such an important message for families. Being able to articulate through symbolism is essential, the naivete is sweet, but the openness and sharing is just as important. Let’s face it, the art world can be kind of freaky. By exposing eccentricities, abstract thought, cultural weirdness, and diverse opinions to kid’s is mind expanding, so they can see it’s ok to be themselves, that they are part of a big family of weirdos. The competitive side of art is just as tough as sports, there are probably some good sports analogies, but there is a parallel between the competitive activities that is apparent. Men teaching their children how to make meaningful marks through art, play and competition is culturally important.

Family means lots of things to lots of people but one thing we can all get behind is that The Great Outdoors needs more frogs and dragon flies.

The Plastic Club Art Studio & Gallery, 247  South Camac Street, Philadelphia, through October 1st, 2015

Written and photographed by DoN Brewer

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