Critic's Notebook


As any visitor to the Tri-County Courthouse Annex knows, that walk from the East Main Street entrance to the south wing hearing rooms is a long one, whether you're reporting for jury duty or surrendering your driver’s license, no matter how many times you've done it. The art exhibit currently adorning those walls, "Perspective Ages: Expressions of the Young and Old" (November 10 – January 30), whose premise is juxtaposing artwork by five-year-olds with that of senior citizens, makes it seem even longer.


While I didn't arrive at the opening of this show expecting to discover a prodigy in Mrs. Tobler's kindergarten class from Tri-County Elementary or a Grandma Moses among the residents of the Shady Rest Retirement Village, I was still grossly disappointed.


Inspired by a recent trend among New York museums to pair up great painters (Matisse-Picasso, Manet-Velasquez, etc.), in a sort of Famous Artist Dream Date, this display of local talent is the second in a trio on the theme "Contrast and Compare".


The first of these offerings, "Landscapes or Seascapes: Which is Better?" closed a few weeks ago and the third, "Poker & Pool: Dogs at Play" is set to open in the spring. The brochure insists that the purpose of these exhibits is “To reveal the important things in life through differing artistic visions."


Well, I don't know what's important to you but all that comparing the paint spatters of the very young and the very old revealed to me is: 1) Both groups favor bright colors and possess sub-par motor skills; 2) At a quick glance (the only sensible way to see this show) you can’t tell if a picture is by a child or a senior; and 3) Since they all stick close to the same short roster of sappy, sentimental subjects — family, pets, thieving night-shift orderlies — it doesn't really matter.


The deeper into this show I waded, the darker my mood became. No sooner had I remarked aloud that "My grandmother could do better," than I spotted my own dear old Nana's mixed-media entry (egg tempera, raspberry Jell-O), entitled "But I Wanted Pudding!" and realized that, no, she couldn't.


As for the opening night festivities, since my role in the unfortunate melee has already been widely reported and is part of an ongoing civil (though no longer criminal) matter, I can say nothing more. With hindsight, however, I should probably have been a tad more sotto of voce when dictating my observations into the tape recorder, at least while standing within earshot of the artists and their families and friends.


My advice for anyone needing to traverse this corridor in the near future is to insist on a court date after the exhibit has ended or, failing that, to pull your coat up over your face, perp-walk style, and make a run for the parking lot. That's my plan, anyway.