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Art That Fools the Eye

The Martha Stewart Show, April 2008

The one-of-a-kind company Ripley's Believe It or Not has an incredible collection of artwork that fools the eye. Established in 1918 by Robert Ripley, an illustrator for the New York Globe newspaper sports department, Ripley's currently has 31 museums worldwide. Their newest museums open in April 2008 in Bangalore, India, and May 2008 in San Antonio, Texas. In total, Ripley's has more than a million pieces of artwork in its collection, and more than 13 million people visit Ripley's attractions each year. Today, Tim O'Brien, Ripley's vice president of publishing and communications, joins Martha with some fascinating pieces of art from Ripley's Orlando and New York City museum locations.

Chinese Emperor
This unique portrait of Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, by Long Beach, California, artist Slater Barron, is made completely out of lint. To create her work, Barron collects lint from her dryer and then separates it into colors. Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi reigned from 221 B.C. to 206 B.C.; his reign marked the beginning of imperial China. Ripley's Hollywood location has another piece by this artist: a John Wayne portrait made of lint.

Mona Lisa
This unique portrait of Mona Lisa is made of 1,426 croutons and was created by Japanese artist Padahit Ogawa. Ogawa bakes his croutons by wrapping bread in foil and cutting out pieces where he wants it to be the darkest. To prevent the croutons from molding, he sprays them with varnish and lets them dry completely before framing. Ripley's currently has nine other pieces made by Ogawa, including a portrait of the Last Supper.

Abraham Lincoln
Created by Lionel Pelkowitz of Nepean, Ontario, in 1987, this portrait of Abraham Lincoln is made of 2,400 pennies. The portrait contains 60 rows of 40 pennies each. The pennies are in their natural state, with no paint or tint added. Ripley's has lots of penny art, including a log cabin made entirely out of penny rolls.

Coffee Grounds
This coffee grounds painting was created in 2008 by Sunshine Plata from Manila, Philippines. The coffee grounds actually stain the paper, similar to how a water-color wash would work -- the more grounds you add, the darker the image becomes.

Whisk Dress
This unique dress was made, using 83 whisks, by a student at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005. Upon graduating, each student was required to create a piece for their year-end fashion show, and this was one of the winners. Ripley's acquired the dress for its Times Square museum.

Resources
Special thanks to Tim O'Brien, vice president of publishing and communications for Ripley's Believe It or Not, for giving two tickets to the Ripley's museum in Times Square and a copy of the latest Ripley's book, "The Remarkable...Revealed," to everyone in our studio audience.

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