Art Imitating Life Imitating Art Imitating Life

Cafe Espresso – San Jose, CA

Acrylic on M.D.O. Board 13ft. X 20ft. 1996

The creation Art Imitating Life Imitating Art Imitating Life at the Cafe Trompe L’oeil (now Cafe Espresso) in San Jose involved painstaking research and preparation, including a coinciding trip to Paris, France. Here the use and integration of pre-existing surrounding material was taken to a new level. Every subject and artwork realized in this virtual extension of the restaurant are an original creation in their own right. Carefully crafted to more than just resemble the finest art of France’s past, its scholarly devotion to authenticity is an homage.

Due to the lack of definition affordable on a web page image we’re including a series of details concentrating on the highlights of the work. To get an idea of the detail and realism we’ve also included a few images with larger dimensions than the rest of the web site.

Where Reality Meets Illusion

(by John Pugh)

The project shown here illustrates how an artist can collaborate with an architect or designer to erase the transitional line between reality and illusion (you can see the actual transition line here). On this project I was fortunate enough to team up with Ed Wieser, designer of Cafe Trompe L’oeil.

To start the project, real bricks were carefully mounted around this plotted outline on the cafe wall to serve as an architectural prop. Meanwhile, back at the studio, the mural was painted on M.D.O. panels which were cut to fit within these lines. The mural panels were then shipped to the cafe and attached to an elevated plywood backing, so that the mural surface would be flush with the front of the real bricks.

Our plans called for other painted elements in the mural – tables, chairs, floor materials, types of wood, and even plants – to be consistent with the real interior environment of the cafe. Most important, the architectural style needed to flow into the piece to make the integration complete. One Henri Rousseau’s uncataloged works.