Gallery in Annapolis showcases art so real that it can fool the eye

Fall exhibition features master of trompe l'oeil and many other artists

Arundel Live

October 30, 2003|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Displaying more than 100 works of art, McBride Gallery's Autumn Celebration is an exciting visual feast of representational art. Through Nov. 9, more than half of McBride's 60 artists are exhibiting recent works in oil, watercolor, acrylic, photography and sculpture at the gallery on Main Street in Annapolis.

At the opening Sunday, a number of the artists whom McBride's represents were on hand, including two who specialize in trompe l'oeil (trick the eye) - one in the tradition of old Dutch masters and another with an interest in local sports.

Eric L. Conklin, the exhibition's featured artist, is a master of trompe l'oeil - the illusionist style that employs perspective, color, texture, form and light to deceive viewers into thinking they are looking at the real object. Winner of "Best of Show" at the 2001 York Art Association, Conklin recently received this year's Cultural Arts Foundation's Annie Award for Visual Arts.

Represented by the gallery since 1997, Conklin said gallery owner Cynthia McBride was the first to give him a chance, after she had asked, "If I was a flash in the pan or could I do other works?"

Truly amazing is Conklin's tribute to his hero, Rembrandt. He described the work as "the first anamorphic painting in 300 years, since 16th-century Dutch followers of Rembrandt created such works. Here I look into a mirror while painting inverted and backward to capture Rembrandt's 1640 self-portrait."

The work consists of a flat platform with a central cylindrical tube attached. By looking into the tube, the viewer sees an inverted, distorted platform painting that gradually shifts into an image of Rembrandt's self-portrait.

At the gallery, Conklin also displays what he calls his "self-portrait," a flawless likeness of Disney's Goofy character. Conklin lavished even greater attention on characters such as Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket. Pinocchio is perched atop a dresser, creating an illusion that moves with the viewer from side to side.

Another nationally known trompe artist, Joe Seme, paints decoys, wildlife, maritime and assorted nostalgic subjects. The grandson of major league ballplayer Ernie "Red" Padgett, Seme expresses his love of the game in his lifelike Oriole Bird. Seme's gift for nostalgic art can be seen in his portrayals of an Annapolis Girl - 1936 and in Bob - Navy Goat Bill's Brother.

Winner of many wildlife art awards with his work displayed in many U.S. and British galleries, Matthew Hillier is a first-time exhibitor at McBride Gallery. His skill at depicting animals is illustrated by his Cheetahs Resting and in North Creek Lake with its lifelike heron at the center, providing one of the most exciting works in the show.

Other artists' works, including photographer Marion E. Warren, are also featured in the exhibition.

The McBride Gallery is at 215 Main St. in Annapolis and is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday (open until 7 p.m. on Thursday) and noon to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Information: 410-267-7077.

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