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April 26, 2007

Coming & Going

by Celeste Scheinberg

Montecito Kids to Show Art at the Louvre

link to Montecito Journal website


Montecito brother and sister Gabriel and Colette Speer are among eight other children who have been chosen to exhibit their paintings at the Louvre Museum, in Paris. Gabriel, 9, and Colette, both students at Montecito Union will show their art for a four-day period in May.

“It all started when my wife and I were living in Los Angeles,” the kids’ father, Chris Speer, explains. “Alecia Seidler, a mother in the neighborhood who was also an artist from Brazil, spent one-on-one time with forty-seven children who lived in our neighborhood, ages four through eleven. She gave each child a large canvas (sixteen to twenty square feet), to create a work inspired by his/her imagination. She had paints, crushed glass, beads, feathers, pieces of old toys and several other items available for them.”

Seidler paid for all materials and framing for the works of art. The children’s finished works were then exhibited for six weeks last year by the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department.

“It was a big deal; they had local celebrities there and pictures of the kids were taken,” says Chris.

The Speers moved to Montecito three years ago and thought they had already experienced the highlight of their children’s art experience when they recently received some more exciting news. Seidler had been using her international connections to try and get some of the pieces shown in a French museum.

“She didn’t think in her wildest dreams that the Louvre would offer to show these paintings. Something just clicked,” Chris explains.

In all, 10 paintings from Seidler’s original exhibit have been selected for display at the Louvre. The exhibit is sponsored by a French arts organization.



Montecito kids Gabriel and Colette Speer will have their respective paintings – “King Arthur on his White Horse” and “The Annunciation” – on display May 3-6 at the Louvre Museum in Paris


Gabriel's piece is “King Arthur on his White Horse” and according to Chris “was inspired from a book he was reading at the time.” Colette’s is “The Annunciation,” with the angel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary, and “was inspired by the Episcopalian school she attended in Los Angeles,” says Chris.

Chris says he and his wife, Maureen, didn’t do much to push their children into the arts. He and Maureen own a business based in Los Angeles that rents and sells picture and sound equipment to television and movie studios.

“We as parents did nothing more than sign the kids up for an occasional after-school art class,” he explains. “We took them to some places in Italy, mixing museum visits with gelato outings.”

Reflecting on the experience, the proud dad finds it hard to suppress his excitement.

“These are my kids!” he exclaims. “I still can’t believe we are going to Paris at the end of the month to celebrate this accomplishment.”

The Louvre will host a reception for the 10 artists on May 3 and the exhibit will run until May 6. Bon Voyage!





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