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Family Valued 2.1.06

Extreme art is supreme

When I was a kid, going to art galleries just wasn't a good time. There was nothing to look at but stiffly posed figures wearing funny clothes. And the art was boring, too.

Visit Extreme Materials at the MemorialArtGallery through April 9, and you'll see those days are long gone.

Orange peels are sculpted into a human head. Mice bones form a twister. Dirt is cast into the shape of a newborn baby. All of a sudden, my kids and I were looking at the dust bunnies under our beds in a whole new light.

My 12-year-old son raved about Mad Cad, an actual 1960 Cadillac Sedan de Ville lovingly smothered in an explosion of vintage treasures. "Now this is really cool!" I'll say. He didn't mention the Xbox 360 once all afternoon.

Untitled, comprising duck sauce packets, drew my 9-year-old daughter's attention. When light hits that stuff, it resembles amber. Finally, a jewelry source for the rest of us.

Extreme Sundays --- February 5, March 5, and April 2, noon to 4 p.m. --- feature free admission, hands-on art activities, and music including mini-recitals on the Italian Baroque organ at 1 pm and 3 pm.

MAG hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 9 p.m. Admission is $7, college student and seniors $5, children 6-18 $2. Under 5 free. Admission reduced to $2 on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m..ExtremeArtDay School offered during February Recess. Visit www.mag.rochester.edu or call 473-7720.

--- Linda Kostin (www.junkstorecowgirl.com)

Baby geniuses and the phantom future

One day when I was a pre-adolescent, a young mother and child paraded through our school escorted by the principal. The child was pre-school age, yet dressed better than the rest of us. He was also better behaved.

So, the principal sits this boy down in front of our high-performance class and begins to read off his accomplishments: something like he spoke five languages, had mastered Newtonian physics, and read James Joyce for fun. The whole room sat in silent awe. We were clearly not worthy. He mostly stared at his mother and paid little attention to anything around him. In retrospect, he probably wanted to have a snack and to go home. In conclusion, the principal led her two companions to the front door of the school and bid them farewell. Neither had articulated a single word, neither was seen again, and the incident was not spoken of again.

I cannot imagine what the principal hoped to accomplish by this dog-and-pony show, probably a misguided effort to lure the child into attending the school.

While I help my son with his homework, occasionally I remember that child in front of my middle-school class. I have to overcome the knee-jerk reaction which says similar phantoms are my boy's competition for a quality future (you know: the good school, the good job, the good life). The daily repetition of parenting does not lend itself to maintaining a reasonable perspective. The pull of the elite education leading to entry into the imagined stratosphere leads to odd choices --- even the little decisions that don't seem like decisions and suddenly make this math problem in front of us more important than food or happiness or a life well-lived.

--- Craig Brownlie