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Matt Mahoney: The Cardboard Cowboy

February 11, 2010

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Matt Mahoney is my roomate and he’s not cool check this article that Bryan Bangerter wrote (another great friend of mine):

PLNU art major Matt Mahoney won first place in the North Park Nights Creative Cardboard Challenge last month.

North Park Nights, a non-profit community arts organization, recruited 14 local artists to create artwork and installations for their green challenge.

Artists used recyclable materials to create eco-friendly installations inside participating businesses. Each installation had to be made primarily of cardboard.

Juror Katherine Ortega selected Mahoney as the first-place winner Sept. 17. Mahoney’s exhibit, currently on display at the Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park, consists of more than 140 cardboard aquatic creatures.

PLNU art professor Lael Corbin encouraged Mahoney, a senior, to get involved in the contest. Elena Revellino, Sea Rocket general manager and co-owner, asked Mahoney to create an installation using objects that are usually thrown out.

“Matt came in and learned about our concept as a restaurant, keeping in mind the North Park theme of being environmentally friendly,” said Revellino.

Mahoney did most of his work in his senior art space in the basement of Cabrillo Hall. Mahoney spent the summer interning with Jim Skalman, the art department chair, as well as working on personal projects like the challenge.

Mahoney began “going at it hard” the night that he was accepted, he said. He researched the aesthetics of local fish, how they school and where they swim. Mahoney put in between 10 and 15 hours each day for a month, molding cardboard and duct tape into an assortment of fish that are native to the Southern Pacific.

With the help of curator Lea Dennis, each of the fish was suspended with fishing wire from the restaurant ceiling. Patrons can spot fish such as albacore, sea bass, yellowtail barracuda and opah, as well as a seven-foot Mako shark and a blue shark.

“It’s interesting that all 140 or so of them are suspended from the roof,” said Mahoney. “This was something that I had never done before.”

Mahoney was delighted to win the challenge, he said.

“I think my parents were way more excited then I was,” said Mahoney. “But it felt good to be acknowledged and was a good opportunity to get myself out there, whether I can be making stuff or observing others.”

PLNU student Kaley Hearnsberger said she appreciated the recycling aspect of the installation, as well as its artistic merit.

“He’s turning trash into treasure,” said Hearnsberger, who was in attendance at the September opening. “It’s cool to see someone using what we waste constructively, using what we have and not creating more waste.”

Revellino said many Sea Rocket patrons are fans of the work. The restaurant incorporates the use of local foods, with an emphasis on local, fresh seafood.

“His concept to feature local fish, it was just amazing to see how he related to what we serve,” said Revellino. “Lots of people think we should keep it up forever.”

Read the rest of this article on The Point Weekly

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