I received an intriguing invitation to an art exhibition entitled "Poison" to be held in a little gallery called Curious Matter in Jersey City. I say intriguing because the flyer described the theme of the exhibit thusly:
Poison has captured the imagination for millennia. It appears in folk tales, fairy tales, opera and murder mysteries. Poisoning has been the clean, classic way evil characters subdue and eliminate a rival without the use of brute force. But poison is not just a substance used to remove inconvenient competition. It is more than our romantic notion of hemlock and horror, and the artists of Curious Matter's POISON exhibition have sensitively distilled the tincture to its purest forms.
Well put, don't you think? I was reminded of the drugged possets in Macbeth, and the apple in Snow White. I knew nothing of the gallery Curious Matter, and less of the neighborhood, but with directions, I found my way to the vernissage on Sunday afternoon. (I'm allowed to call it that because of my six years in Geneva, where an art opening is known as a vernissage.)
Curious Matter is on the parlor floor of a brownstone on Fifth Street. It is a tiny space, made smaller by the crowd, but very pleasant, and its curators, also artists, are eager to make new guests feel at home. I had a nice chat with Raymond E. Mingst, gallery owner and artist, and I enjoyed the artworks on display. It is not a dark and poisonous show, but rather an inspiration based on the many ways we deal with the poisons that surround us. Andrew Graham's bold oil paintings of toxic maxims from a local church caught my eye. Roaming around the room I was drawn to the tiny goose-stepping geese on Kara Smith's Green As Goslings, little ones whose minds were clearly being poisoned by their adult leaders. Whimsy came forth in Mingst's own You're Not Out of the Woods Yet, Dearie, a clear resin sculpture of a hand the size of a teaspoon sticking out of the wall, offering the possibility of any number of possible life-threatening substances.
The show is small, but full of food for thought. It will run until May 17 on Sundays from noon to 3 P.M. or by appointment.
I found the visit so pleasant I became curious myself about living in Jersey City. Not that my bags are packed, but with the better weather, I'm going to explore.