Mermaid

A 3-week exhibition of modern art in Birmingham town hall included a piece by a previously unknown artist, Jan Michel, which won praise for its picassolike features. Only as the show was closing did Ronald Allin, a musician with the Birmingham city orchestra, reveal that "Jan Michel" was actually his 8-year-old son Michael. The father had told his son to paint "anything he liked" and then secretly included the result in the exhibition. He titled the piece "Mermaid" because the image bore a vague resemblance to that mythical creature. The exhibition director said it was a pity the joke was only revealed on the last day because "it might have attracted more people."

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