Nassau musum’s new exhibit Fools the Eye with optical illusions in art

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The galleries were filled with visitors trying to discern the illusion. Works shown are Janet Fish’s Black Bowl, Red Scarf; Greg Constantine’s Johns Object; and, at the right, Vic Muniz’s Buttons.(Photo by Arien Dijkstra)

From across the room, Daniel Sprick’s “Souls in Purgatory” certainly appears to be a large photograph of two men in front of a line of cars.

The sign next to Sprick’s work, however, swears it’s an oil painting.

Museum Trustee Harvey Manes with Dahlia Unicornis, a 1967 work he loaned to the exhibition. (Photo by Arien Dijkstra)

Nassau County Museum of Art’s new exhibit “Fool the Eye” is filled with optical illusions in a number of mediums, with paintings you’d swear were layered photos, real buttons alongside their printed counterparts and ordinary trash that is actually exquisite sculpture work.

Museum Director Charles Riley greeted guests at the exhibit’s opening night reception Friday about 100 days into his tenure with the museum in East Hills. Guests moved from room to room in the Saltzman Fine Art Building, commenting to friends and family about each trick the artists managed to incorporate into their paintings and sculptures.

Wine for the reception was donated by Total Wine in Westbury, Riley said, and the wine and spirit shop donated  approximately $32,000 from its opening weekend sales to the museum.

Blank Slate Media publisher Steven Blank with Double Doorway Interior, a 1990 work by St. James artist Christian White. (Photo by Arien Dijkstra)

Curated by Franklin Hill Perrell and Debbie Wells, the exhibit features more than 100 works borrowed from museums around the country by 20th- and 21st-century artists like Salvador Dalí, Janet Fish, Audrey Flack, Jasper Johns, Judith Leiber, Roy Lichtenstein, Vik Muniz, Ben Schoenzeit and Victor Vasarely.

“If there’s one thing that brings this show together, it’s when an artist guides you in how to see,” Riley said during the reception. “For generations now, hundreds maybe thousands of Long Islanders have been guided on how to see by Franklin Hill Perrell.”

Perrell’s and Wells’ previous collaborations for the museum include “Feast for the Eyes” in July 2016, “The Moderns: Long Island Collects” in July 2015 and “Garden Party” in March 2014.

Perrell said he and Wells traveled from gallery to gallery, asking to borrow works that fit into the “Fool the Eye” theme, running through March 4.

“It’s something that’s going to appeal to everybody because I think we all are curious about how the artists create the illusion of life,” Perrell said. “As you walk around the art you can ask yourself the question, ‘Is it real or isn’t it?’ That’s the one question I think permeates the whole show.”

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