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Fridge TV

Most art done by 7 year-olds makes it onto the door of the refrigerator - at best. Two pieces of Ceely Fritz's artwork, on the other hand, was on national television Saturday. The second-grader at Clara Barton Hawthorne Elementary School in Fargo...

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Most art done by 7 year-olds makes it onto the door of the refrigerator - at best. Two pieces of Ceely Fritz's artwork, on the other hand, was on national television Saturday. The second-grader at Clara Barton Hawthorne Elementary School in Fargo says she thought "it was going to be pretty cool and exciting" when her dad told her that her work was going to be on television. And it is pretty cool. But how does a 7-year-old from our neck of the woods manage to get her art on "Movie and a Makeover," a program on TBS?

Much of the credit goes to FargoKids.com, a Fargo-based venture that allows parents, grandparents or whoever to order high-quality reproductions of their child's artwork on paper, canvas, etc. Or they can just order copies of children's artwork already on the FargoKids.com site.

It's through FargoKids.com that Brian Patrick Flynn, home and garden producer and on-air designer for the "Movie and a Makeover," got Ceely's images.

"Movie and a Makeover" is a regular segment that intersperses bits about home and garden, fashion, personal finances, etc., into a movie, "Legally Blonde 2" in this case.

Flynn was searching for art to use with segments about creating a play space. He said he Googled "children's art printed on canvas" and came across FargoKids.com. He called them up, they sent him the images, and, voila, Ceely's work is seen across the nation.

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One of the images Flynn selected is of a multicolored cat, while the other features a zebra and three hearts with the words "I zeebra you daddy" (and, actually, the "z" is backward.).

"I particularly love the zebra art because it's so graphic and simple," Flynn says. "The cat drawing is also fantastic because it's incredibly well-done, especially for a child."

FargoKids.com was founded by Fargoan Ryan Fritz. He also happens to be Ceely's dad. He didn't quite know what to think when Flynn first contacted him.

"I was first wondering if it was one of my brothers playing a prank on me or something," he says.

It was no prank, and Fritz says he was "thrilled." And, of course, it's even sweeter for Fritz because it was his own daughter's art that made the show.

"I can't even explain it," Fritz says. "It really amplifies the excitement because Brian could have picked anybody's art."

The idea of reproducing kids' art had been bumping around in Fritz's brain for years. And it was actually a little book that Ceely made in first grade that he considers to be the real defining moment for FargoKids.com.

The book was about Ceely, herself, and included a self-portrait as well as pictures she'd made of her family and her home. Fritz was moved.

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"I almost cried when I read this little book," he says.

And he decided he was going to do something.

"At the very least I will make a copy of this portrait of hers," he says.

That was the beginning. At this point, FargoKids.com is still in the fledgling stages. The Web site has been up "just over a year if I recall," Fritz says.

"I still don't really know what I'm going to do with this," he says.

He's considering turning it into a nonprofit organization. He also has thoughts of moving the operation into a more commercial-type space.

But, for now, the 36-year old runs the venture from his home, as evidenced by the gargantuan $5,900 HP printer in his basement.

"If it became my full-time job, I think that would be cool," says Fritz, who also founded and owns the e-commerce and online marketing site FoundAbility.com. But he says the ultimate goal is to encourage creativity in kids.

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If part of that encouragement is getting exposure for kids' art, Fritz has already accomplished his goal to some degree.

Currently in the works are three pieces that are to hang in a library in Wirtz, Va. The pieces are taken from "Our Friend Mikayla," a children's book about third-graders' experiences with a disabled student in their class.

Locally, FargoKids.com has had shows at The Winery and at the Atomic Coffee shop on Broadway. Josie's Corner Cafe and Bake Shop has also displayed some pieces, and Elements Skin Clinic and Spa currently has six FargoKids.com images on display.

Susan Kolstad, a first-grade teacher at Clara Barton Hawthorne and Ceely's former teacher, has helped connect Fritz with parents of students in her class, and Fritz also reproduced a "class portrait" that her students created. Kolstad says Fritz has a passion for children's art and that the process he uses preserves it.

"Children's art captures a moment in time for the future adult" and brings joy to the family, Kolstad says.

In her words, Fritz's work "preserves memories for the child."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734

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