Looks can be deceiving: New KMAC show might make you look twice

Apr 1, 2008 at 7:37 pm

Tom Pfannerstill's
Tom Pfannerstill's "Chinese Take Out"
If you weren’t sufficiently tricked on April 1, go see the exhibition “Made to Deceive: The Art of Trompe l’Oeil” at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft. Deluded, spoofed, punked — no matter how you say it, you will be fooled.

Trompe l’oeil is the devil’s own art technique. The optical illusion created by hyper-realistic art makes objects seem to be something they are not. The phrase translates to “trick the eye,” and trick it does. The 25 artists in the show are experts at making you look two, three, even four times at their objects made of glass, wood, fiber, paint and clay.

Louisville has two artists in the show, Tom Pfannerstill and Frank Weisberg. Pfannerstill’s current series is inspired by trash. The basic shape of “Chinese Take-Out” is cut from wood, with realistic painted details that make it look like Pfannerstill just picked it up off the street and tacked it on the wall. If you look at this facsimile flattened container and wonder what all the fuss is about — that it’s just a piece of thrown-away refuse — then it’s further testimony to his skill.

According to the exhibition wall text, Weisberg “will paint a custom portrait of your favorite piece of clothing,” such as “Trench Coat Hang-Up.” But it is his faux water fountain “Have a Drink” that caught my attention. It should have a camera beside it to register how many people approach it to get a drink (but not by me — I know where the real fountain is).

If the art doesn’t tease you enough, the show also features five works created by students in Sullivan University’s Baking and Pastry Arts Program. This is the first time KMAC has featured sculpture made of marzipan (a mix of almond paste and powdered sugar with either glucose or corn syrup), butter, bread, chocolate and sugar. Sullivan will host two food workshops during the exhibition: decorating Mother’s Day cakes (May 10) and making bread sculpture (date TBA).

Once you’ve finished shaking your head in disbelief, check out the other exhibition, “New Blue: New and Emerging Kentucky Artists.” In the first of what promises to be a biennial event, it showcases the future — and from the looks of it, art in Kentucky will continue to flourish nicely, thank you. Louisville Metro is well represented by Jason Cohen, Emily Detrick, Genevieve Hancock, Justin Kamerer, Shelley Lee, Kathleen Lolley, Melissa Pinn, Michael and Mickie Winters, and Julie Yoder.

Lee’s superlative hand-built ceramic “Body of Water” seems to flow upward from a pool of water, forming the body as it rises. Woodworker Cohen combined cherry, ebony and mother of pearl to create outstanding pieces of furniture.

KMAC has started an artist-in-residence program. Ceramicist Wesley James, who is also in the “New Blue” show, is their first, and you can find him working on the third floor through July 1.

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‘Made to Deceive: The Art of Trompe l’Oeil’
‘New Blue: New and Emerging Kentucky Artists’
Through May 24
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
715 W. Main St.
$5 (free to museum members)