Synopsis by Mark Deming
Most four-year-olds make paintings that hang on the refrigerator in their parents' kitchen, but by that age Marla Olmstead already had her first gallery show in Binghamton, NY. Born in 2000, Marla first picked up a paint brush when she was a year old, following the example of her father, an amateur painter, and soon the tyke was creating large canvases with unexpected skill and enthusiasm. Her father gave one of Marla's paintings to a friend who owned a coffee shop, and when a customer offered to buy the piece for 250 dollars, the pre-kindergartner began a career as a professional artist. Marla's work has been displayed around the United States and her paintings fetch as much as 25,000 dollars each, but some have questioned if Marla is following her own muse or taking instruction from her parents. Others have debated the validity of reviews comparing her work to Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock, and a few have asked if Marla's parents are the art world equivalent of stage mothers, pushing their child and exploiting her talents for their own benefit. Documentary filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev examines young artist, her work and the controversy behind it in his film My Kid Could Paint That, which was an official selection at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.