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Arts & Culture

Cardboard Art Festival is a celebration of creative reuse

Local artists build a carnival of corrugated delights

Photo: Tisse Mallon, License: N/A

Tisse Mallon

"The biggest artistic challenge in this project was probably just embracing the cardboard for what it is," says Brendan O'Connor, co-curator of this weekend's Cardboard Art Festival. That is, "besides the ginormous paper cuts you can get if you're not paying attention."

The three-day festival is the brainchild of local event producer Mark Baratelli, who swears the whole thing was a bolt from the blue. "I was standing at my desk, and I just said, 'Cardboard art festival.' It popped into my head, I wrote it down, and I bought the domain name later that day. I just felt like it could happen."

It clearly took a true impresario (that is, someone able to write the initial check, as well as inspire the enthusiastic assistance of numerous helpers) to pack this many events into a weekend. Opening night (6 p.m.-midnight Friday, $5) reveals the art, installed in Julio Lima's bright-orange Say It Loud studio; DJ Nigel will kickstart the dance party. Contacts from Baratelli's biggest success, the Food Truck Bazaar, facilitated Saturday night's ClandesDine pop-up dinner ($75), at which chef Bryce Balluff of the Fork in the Road food truck will prepare and serve a five-course dinner to guests seated among the art. (Flambée preparations are a bad idea, we're thinking.) After kiddie workshops all day – check cardboardartfestival.com for the schedule – Sunday night wraps up the fest with performances from Dog Powered Robot and Andy Matchett & the Minks (7:30 p.m.-midnight, $5).

In addition to helping put together the festival, O'Connor (the artist behind the SIT Project, those decorated chairs you see lashed to LYNX bus stops) will also be showing new work, along with Nathan Selikoff, whose towering cardboard-tube stick figures were seen in 2012's Walk On By and Creative City Project; Adriaan Mol, known for his wood-block interpretations of pop-culture standbys like R2-D2 and Space Invaders; painter Christie Miga and graphic designer Evan Miga, creators of Dog Powered Robot's cardboard automatons and their imperiled city; Jessica Earley, the multimedia artist whose yarn-bombing installations brightened Urban ReThink at Walk On By; and Doug Rhodehamel, the other curator of the show and the local artist best known for his creative reuse of refuse: paper-bag mushrooms, soda-bottle jellyfish, 20-foot-long cardboard sharks.

Despite being the most lowly of art materials, and one of the few that's free (in this case, a large percentage of the cardboard used was donated by IKEA), cardboard art has its high-profile adherents. Frank Gehry's 1972 Wiggle Chair, a curvy piece of furniture made from laminated layers of corrugated fiberboard, was a witty riff on Charles and Ray Eames' laminated plywood furniture. Sculptor Ann Weber was directly inspired by Gehry when she began creating her massive woven totems. Tom Sachs, though he doesn't work solely in cardboard, first got noticed with his cheeky series of cardboard-built objects stamped with luxury logos – a Prada toilet, an Hermès Happy Meal, a Chanel chainsaw.

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