In English that’s cute and endearing (though still quite difficult to understand even after 23 years in the US) Alexander Chen (known as the Master of Hyper-Realism because of his incredible attention to detail in his paintings) told of growing up in China and how at the age of 16, the Chinese government decided he would be a professional farmer. Chen was sent to a rice paddy where he planted 1, 2, 3, 4 rice plants this way, then turned and planted 1, 2, 3, 4 plants in a different way so as to allow the wind to blow through. Every day he and his co-farmers took 2500 ducks to the farm to eat bugs, and every night they took 2500 ducks back. From watching and counting the ducks, Chen learned to tell male and female ducks apart just by their heads. There were water buffalo, too – 25 of them that had to be herded back and forth daily. The young buffaloes were bad to wander off, but they always came back to their mothers. The older buffaloes were bad to wander off and keep going as long as the food held out. The more he talked, the more it became clear where he got his incredible attention to detail.

When he settled in San Francisco, he spent $700 and bought himself a Pinto. He took the car out for a spin, and quickly learned that it was good for about 100 miles. Knowing the limits of the Pinto, he began to take car trips within those parameters, and though a teacher taught him to sing “This land is your land, this land is my land,” he, like so many 16 year olds, credits his first car with teaching him about freedom.

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When I left to take a walking break, I spied a painting by Anatole Krasnyansky that immediately made me think of Nancy and her drawings. Am I crazy? Maybe, but what I felt was thrilled.

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Jeanne Hewell-Chambers wishes Nancy’s drawings were as revered (and sold for as much money) as Krasnyansky’s paintings.

* The Krasnyansky painting is titled Music Scene.