When you look at the leather glove and coming-apart-at-the-seams ball in Felix Esteban Rosario’s “Pasion Dominica,” you might think, “Ah, yes, there must be a lot of baseball fans in the Dominican Republican.”
But gaze at some of the other works on display in “Capturing Realism,” the biennial exhibit of works by students and associates of modern Trompe L’Oeil painter Anthony J. Waichulis of Bear Creek and you might find yourself wondering what kind of experiences led the artists to create them.
Timothy Jahn’s “Pushback,” for example, depicts a young woman clutching a hammer and looking seriously determined. Does she have a black eye? Is she prepared to use the tool to defend herself?
What about the tear-streaked face of the woman in “Rue” by Rodney O’Dell Davis? Why is she so sad?
You’ll see a skeleton pouring drinks, a rose resting on a piano keyboard and a blindfolded man whose torso has been cut open to reveal a chest filled with buzzing insects. What do they all mean?
Part of the joy in admiring this artwork, Waichulis said, is that the symbolism isn’t always apparent.
In his Bear Creek studio as well as the Ani Art Academies he helped establish on the Caribbean island of Anguilla and in the Dominican Republic, students are taught about technique, but content is purely their own.
“I know when to stand back,” Waichulis said. “I teach them how to play the notes but not how to arrange them into a melody.”
Just about every piece among the dozens in the exhibit, which will be on display at Misericordia University’s Pauly Friedman Art Gallery through Oct. 31, easily can be mistaken for a photograph — a quality that pleases Waichulis.
“I love to hear people say that,” he said. “The highest-definition images most people ever see are photographs, and these are hyper high-definition.”
In reality, the artists have used not photography but charcoal, pastels and oils to “trick the eye,” which is what Trompe L’Oeil means in French.
Among the realistic-looking pieces you’ll see at Misericordia is one Sharon Hourigan of Glen Summit created, depicting elements precious to her family.
Along with a portrait of her 20-year-old daughter, Meg, the piece includes clementine oranges (a favorite fruit), a silver tray that was a wedding gift, a perfume bottle, a sequined veil, a lamp and vase from a bedside table, a small book that relates a history of Glen Summit and a larger book about Wyoming Seminary, where Hourigan’s husband and daughter went to school. “We have a deep love of Wyoming Seminary,” she said.
Hourigan also loves her art lessons with Waichulis.
“For me it’s been life-changing. He really took a chance allowing me into the program. I didn’t have a portfolio, no resume at all. The only thing I had was the desire and the passion and the willingness,” she said.
A full-time mom for many years, Hourigan, 56, began studying art four years ago and is thrilled to embark on a new venture.
Impressed by all the artists represented in the show, she said, “I’m so proud to be among that group. I’m so honored. The talent is so great.”