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“The Cardboard Show”: Dimattio’s New Gallery

As of Fall 2023, Monmouth University’s DiMattio Gallery is currently hosting the sequel to “The Cardboard Show” which opened in February 2023 in Asbury Park’s art gallery, Parlor. “The Cardboard Show: Beyond the Fold” features the works of artists Porkchop, Bradley Hoffer, and Jason Stumpf. All three of the artists have large-scale cardboard sculptures displayed along with works from their collections of work.

Porkchop completed his master’s in sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BA from the University of Arts in Philadelphia. He displayed sculptures that looked other-worldly with a spiritual feel. This collection of sculptures premiered in an exhibition titled “La Catedral” that took place in St. Petersburg, Russia, from February until June 2022.

Bradley Hoffer graduated from the Mason Gross School of Visual Arts at Rutgers where he received a BFA in sculpture. During this exhibit, he unveiled a collection of sixteen paintings that have been in the works for six and a half years as well as cardboard sculptures.

Jason Stumpf is an artist that is based in Asbury Park and is a woodworker displaying carefully crafted furniture and wood sculptures along with cardboard sculptures of his creation.

In the past, the artists have made cardboard presentations but specifically, created the 2021 Asbury Park Christmas tree titled “The Giving Tree.” This was received in a divided manner by the local residents, some wanting a traditional Christmas tree. However, artists Porkchop and Hoffer constructed the Asbury Park trees out of cardboard during the 2022 and 2023 holiday seasons, this time with lights providing a traditional aspect some residents were looking for. The 2022 display was also accompanied by snowflake cutouts and nutcrackers toy soldiers.

It was through this project and extra cardboard that the opportunity to create “The Cardboard Show” in the Parlor gallery arose. When the opportunity came along Hoffer said, “You have to be open and ready.”
The three artists sequestered themselves last year to construct “The Cardboard Show.” Almost a year later, “The Cardboard Show: Beyond the Fold” opened here at Monmouth University.

The exhibit has come to life on campus over the past month, and while some parts of the sculptures were created in the artist’s studios, taking the independent pieces and constructing them into the large sculptures, they are now occurring on-site in the DiMattio Gallery. The exhibit displays large-scale cardboard sculptures that take different shapes such as the “Inuit Flower,” different arcade games including Pac-Man, and “Circe,” a sculpture that resembles an Easter Island rock statue. The precision and attention to detail is unlike any other with a cardboard cardinal and blue jay placed on top of the intricate entryway created by Jason Stumpf.

Deanna Shoemaker, Ph.D., Department of Communication Chair, said, “The wild cardboard sculptures felt like ritualistic totems in their incredible detail and scale. I loved all the iterations of the whimsical paintings of various robot-like creatures too. Porkchop’s transformation of mannequins into strange and beautiful beings is a highlight. I loved the delicate wood sculptures too.”

Erin Potter, a psychology freshman, was moved by the depth achieved using cardboard saying, “It shows what someone can do with what is around you, especially seeing it come to life throughout the process.”
It seemed to many onlookers that cardboard would be difficult to construct sculptures with, but Hoffer spoke on the fact that since cardboard is rudimentary. Some of Hoffer’s collection of cardboard works were two-dimensional and three-dimensional sculptures of his paintings. For Hoffer, the transition from canvas to cardboard was smooth. He said, “I realized the way I did the color blocking was how I was seeing it in 3D, I just didn’t know it yet.”

This came to life with Hoffer’s “Topographical Outer Rim” two-dimensional cardboard sculpture displayed above his “Outer Rim” painting both looking exactly like each other, allowing those who may not be familiar with art to marvel at the exhibit with ease. The creativity and originality were abundantly present, and Hoffer spoke on how creating some of the cardboard sculptures used scraps left over from other sculptures and even packaging that the cardboard was shipped in, presenting an opportunity that is unique to art. He said, “You can turn one language into another.”

The packed gallery opening was impressive to all with nursing freshman Erin Ware saying, “This community is very tight-knit and into art, which explains the turnout.” Attendees of the opening filled the gallery and consisted of all ages with many families in attendance.

Shoemaker continued, “I was very excited to see the great turnout for this show featuring longtime local artists who have made a huge impact in our community. This playful exhibit should appeal to students too.”

Plenty of students were in attendance at the opening. Freshman art major Willow Jacovini said, “I am impressed by what they can do with a monochrome piece.” While the bottom floor of the gallery consisted of mostly monochrome pieces, the enthusiastic conversations brought a vibrant color not otherwise present downstairs. Hanging off of the banister and into the middle of the room was a cardboard banner that bridged the gap between floors seamlessly, catching the eyes of those downstairs to look up and catch glimpses of Hoffer’s collection of paintings displayed upstairs.

“The Cardboard Show: Beyond the Fold” has generated curiosity from students, especially those with class in Rechnitz Hall who got to see a bit of the construction process. Hoffer was happy to hear that Monmouth University students like the exhibit, and he said, “I really would like art to be more approachable. People often think of art as this stuffy thing that is not achievable, but if I can do it, you can do it.”

Artist Stumpf said, “If you can make something beautiful every day, that is what it’s really about.” Hoffer stressed the importance of not wanting to put out pretentiousness regarding art, but rather a curiosity that allows people to connect to it as well as create art themselves.

Ware emphasized, “It was cool to see the artists who made it. When you look at art, you don’t think about the time, effort, and people that go into this.”

“The Cardboard Show: Beyond the Fold” will be on display in the DiMattio Gallery until Mar. 22. The next Gallery Exhibit hosted by Monmouth University will be “Metamorphosis: Works by Nanci France-Vaz” from Mar. 25 until May 2.