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Etch A Sketch Masterpiece a Keeper, But Don't Jiggle

August 07, 1994| from Associated Press

NEW YORK — The work by a big-name artist is rather linear in style, maybe a bit two-dimensional. It could also disappear with one good shake.

The 9-year-old drawing by Elaine de Kooning was done on an Etch A Sketch.

De Kooning is the late artist, critic and wife of painter Willem de Kooning. And Etch A Sketch is the quickly erasable, two-knobbed drawing board that has gotten countless families with children through countless long car rides.

In 1985, an art gallery in Sag Harbor celebrated Etch A Sketch's 25th birthday with a drawing contest for Long Island artists. Diane Deger, who owned the Parasol Gallery, recently found De Kooning's entry lying flat in a box filled with items from the gallery.

It was signed "E de K," in the corner, like all of her work. An attached note warned, "Please Do Not Move," since even standing it up would affect the sketch.

"It was an image of two elephants under a tree by a pool of water," Deger said. "It's got nice broken lines. It's really very good."

But not good enough to win the contest. That honor went to a nightclub singer named Phoebe LeJaire, possibly because her drawing of whales was deemed more fitting for Long Island.

An expert Deger consulted said the De Kooning sketch has no commercial value, but she considers it a great memento. As long as the drawing doesn't disappear.

"There is a way to make the drawing permanent," she said, and she's contacted Ohio Art, maker of Etch A Sketch, to find exactly how.

In the meantime, she said, "I hope I don't drop it."

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