Art installation creates downtown optical illusion

Art installation creates downtown optical illusion

CORNWALL, Ontario - Be prepared to suspend your imagination when you visit The Art Gallery (TAG) Cornwall, this week, as artist, Chalkmaster Dave, creates a 3D piece sure to fool your eye.

The versatile and talented Dave Johnston moved to Cornwall from Toronto, three weeks ago, to be closer to his family. After a meeting with gallery director, Sylvie Lizotte, the pair came up with the idea of a live art performance.

This current work is a 3D piece which he is creating for a show in Toronto, later this year. With the exhibit’s theme being “optical illusions,” Johnston created the “impossible staircase.”

“If you take a photo from the right angle, it gives you an optical illusion.”

The 43 year old, admitted high school drop-out is self-taught. “I made a lot of mistakes, but you figure it out as you go along,” he said, explaining that he chose the moniker, Chalkmaster Dave not only to make himself stand out in the art world, but to inspire him to push himself in order to live up to the name.

To the naked eye 3D art looks like just a bunch of geometric shapes, explained Johnston about the science behind the art. “Because we, as humans, see in 3D - length, times width and depth - our brain adjusts our vision so fast that we know this is flat, so we can’t really see the depth.” From the vantage point, marked off in gallery (from which this photo was taken), the effect if impressive.

There are plans in the works for a sidewalk art project outside the gallery when weather permits. As well as large scale work, he paints smaller-scale pieces on canvas, from portraits to abstract.

The piece will be on exhibit until Saturday. On that day, free prints of Johnston’s work will be given to the first 40 people on Saturday. Donations will go to TAG for future projects.

Ongoing at TAG is the Annual Juried Exhibition with 59 pieces from 27 artists, on display. The public is invited to come in and vote for the people’s choice award. The exhibit runs until March 14. Visit for further details. For more on Chalkmaster Dave, visit

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