RICHMOND — As sword-fighting implements go, daylilies wouldn't seem terribly threatening.
That's what Ronald D. Gosses and a friend were using to dueling when Gosses was 5 or 6 years old. But Gosses' young friend scored a fateful blow, scratching Gosses' left eye.
The accident left him without depth perception. If someone was standing a few feet in front of a wall, he could not perceive the distance between the person and the wall.
"I became fascinated with stereoscopes," Gosses says, referring to the viewers that create three-dimensional depth from a pair of two-dimensional images, "because that did it for me."
It wasn't until 2008 that Gosses, 65, started to regain three-dimensional vision, and then he started to put it in his art.
On Tuesday, Richmond's Gallery on Main will open Now Showing: In 3D, an exhibit of abstract pieces by Gosses that the viewer can best see by popping on a pair of movie theater-style 3D glasses.
"What those glasses do is they're separating colors," Gosses says in his studio, showing several of the works that will be in the show. "The secret is it's separating the opposite — so the opposite of red is green. So when I paint, I use those opposite colors, and that's how you get that."
Gosses says he came upon the style out of a desire to "do something that was not common, that was new and different."
He has created art all his life, although he spent most of his career as executive vice president for Mercantile Stores Co. of Cincinnati, whose properties included McAlpin's and Bacon's department stores.
"We did a lot of innovation at the time, and the innovation basically was the presentation," Gosses says. "A store we opened in Denver was the first to have environmental music, so it appealed not only to the lifestyle but the aspiration of the customer. So, if you go to buy a pair of Dockers, the music would be Big Band, because that is that type of customer. But if you went to buy a suit, it would be classical or jazz, because the aspiration of that customer is to get ahead in the world. In the cosmetic department, you would hear Baroque music, but in the lingerie department, it was heavy classical music, like Tchaikovsky, because you were really selling sex there."
Gosses says he also worked on the concept of stores within stores, putting together complementary items, and helped create the overall ambience of stores including the New Orleans-based Maison Blanche chain. The corporate retail positions had Gosses designing clothing and furniture with Oleg Cassini and Pucci International.
"I was designing while I was working, so that really was my art then," he says.
After retiring and focusing on art, he and his wife, Diana M. Gosses, looked to settle in the Bluegrass because of its natural beauty and its openness to art. They also wanted to be close to Gosses' father in northern Ohio, who died late last month after a long battle with Alzheimer's.
They couple bought an old home in Richmond and filled it with works by artists Gosses mentored and his own work. His studio has a golden sofa that he helped design.
Since making the move, he has shown work regionally and internationally: in Geneva, Switzerland, and Seoul, South Korea. One noteworthy night, he had exhibits opening in two New York galleries. Now Showing, though, will be his first Central Kentucky exhibit.
"We're going to have fun with it," Diana Gosses says. "Maybe we'll have popcorn."
Ronald Gosses might not be in sales anymore, but he still thinks of creating an atmosphere.