The medium is not the illusion, as the title proclaims in the current exhibition at Cal State Fullerton's art gallery. It's the seven artists' transformation of their materials that causes double-takes in this show of illusionistic sculpture.
You know the kind: Marilyn Levine's clay that looks like leather, Richard Shaw's ceramic renditions of books and papers, Richard Haden's painted wood sculptures of paint buckets and a gasoline can, Robert Bourdon's wooden dolly and an all-wood dinette chair that you would swear was upholstered with naugahyde and patched with silver duct tape. And here's a new one: Kodo Okuda's lacquered ivory emulations of "Fallen Leaves," all curled, dry and perforated.
The idea of fooling the eye goes back to the Greeks, as Jan Butterfield's catalogue essay and a slide show in the gallery remind us, but it lives in contemporary art for at least three reasons: People love to be tricked by astonishing craftsmanship, they like to recognize the subject depicted and they feel comforted by knowing that their 5-year-old kids couldn't do better.
The best illusionistic art does more than imitate, but verisimilitude and virtuosity are what make it ever popular. Unfortunately, we've been subjected to so many trompe l'oeil shows in recent years that the bells and whistles don't go off anymore. What do you do after you've said "gee whiz" more times than you'd care to remember?