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Culture Watch

Get Real! 

Can you believe your eyes? That’s a question you’ll be pondering if you take my advice and visit the Fourth Annual International Guild of Realism exhibition debuting at the Weatherburn Gallery this month.

That this exhibition is being held in Naples is a genuine coup de chance. The prestigious guild holds its annual showing in different cities each year. Previous sites were Santa Fe, N.M.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Dallas. As you might gather, the artists juried into this show are the best of the contemporary Realists throughout the world.

So what’s so great about Realism? Let me answer by using one of our own Naples artists, who happens to be a member of the IGOR, as an example. Tom Cardamone specializes in trompe l’oeil paintings. That’s French for "fools the eye," and that’s exactly what Cardamone’s work does. His Silk Scarf will leave you tempted to grab it before the "tape" that’s holding it gives way. Cardamone claims he wanted to be a magician when he was a kid. Now he does magic tricks on canvas.

Cardamone’s mainstream Realist works are just as impressive. Works like Santa Fe Morning and Ocean’s Lyric look so much like photographs that it’s hard to believe they are acrylic paintings. And Generations—a gouache on illustration board that won him entry into the IGOR—has such depth, shadows and detail that you can almost feel the breeze that’s fluttering the flag.

Now just imagine a gallery filled with works of that caliber. And what better place for this exhibition than the Weatherburn, which has introduced so many Realist artists to this area? It’s a delightful, dizzying prospect that will leave you with a whole new appreciation for what’s real.

The line between reality and fantasy is also explored—in a totally different way—at Theatre Conspiracy this month, as it presents First Time. Written by Ken Davenport, the play takes its story from the more than 40,000 people who anonymously shared stories of their first sexual encounter on a Web site created in 1998. What boggles the mind is that all these stories—and their characters—are presented by a cast of four in 90 minutes!

The Fourth Annual International Guild of Realism Exhibition runs from Feb. 17-March 2 at the Weatherburn Gallery in Bayfront, Naples. Tom Cardamone presents a slide/lecture on Realism and trompe l’oeil paintings at 5 p.m. Feb. 26 at Bayfront Fine Arts, (239) 513-2796. Visit www.weatherburn.com or www.tomcardamoneart.com. First Time is presented at Theatre Conspiracy in Fort Myers, Thursday-Saturday from February 5-28. For tickets, call (239) 936-3239.

More hot tickets

• Head over to the Naples Museum of Art and check out Norman Rockwell: American Imagist, featuring original tear sheets of 321 of Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post covers. (800) 597-1900 or www.thephil.org.

• The Broadway Palm begins its concert series with Martin Preston as Liberace. Feb. 2 at 8 p.m., preceded by dinner at 6 p.m. (239) 278-4422 or www.broadwaypalm.com.

• Even if you’ve already seen the film version released in December, check out Gulfshore Playhouse’s production of Doubt. Weekends at the Norris Center, Naples, from Feb. 19-28. www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org.

• The Naples Players perform The Heidi Chronicles, Wendy Wasserstein’s witty play about a woman coming of age Feb. 4–28. (239) 263-7990 or www.naplesplayers.org.

• The Naples Art Association’s 30th Annual Naples National Art Festival features works by 300 of the nation’s top artists. Feb. 21 and 22 in Cambier Park, Naples. (239) 262-6517 or www.naplesart.org.

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