Grand Detour, Review by Joseph R.Wohlin, Time Out New York, 2006

In the spirit of the 18th-century British travelers who made improving trips to Italy and sketched the Roman ruins, Irish artist Caroline McCarthy tours Grand Street in Williamsburg and returns to Parker’s Box with vedute, picturesque scenes of some relics of America’s imperial civilization.

A row of framed etchings leads to a wall of Pompeian red and covered, salon style, with finely rendered sketches in pencil and watercolor. Garbage and weeds are pictured close-up, from impossibly low vantage points. Scraps of urban detritus appear huge, the nearby looks faraway, and the insignificant becomes monumental. Aluminum cans, plastic bottles and discarded bolts of fabric suggest broken pillars. The folds of plastic trash bags evoke the draperies of classical statuary. An overturned paper coffee cup, with a Greek key motif and the words WE ARE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU, looks like a fallen column capital. This image recurs in two drawings and an etching, as well as on a series of T-shirts that hang on a rack of matching baseball caps, the modern tourist’s souvenirs. The cup’s classical decoration rhymes the antiquities encountered on the historic Grand Tour with our throwaway culture, a witty emblem for the show.

As McCarthy scrutinizes the local, she records what most tourists - and most natives - ignore. She implies that the overlooked may be worthy of notice, but also reminds us that a culture’s ruins recommend it to future generations. Look on our works, ye mighty, and despair!