By Coco Mault

Pink Hobo Gallery
507 E. Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN
Hours: Mon – Fri 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. ; Sat 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sun 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.


Origami has been around for millenia, but learning how to fold a perfect paper swan hasn’t exactly consumed the masses. And traditional paper dolls are more popular in the collector’s market right now than in kids’ play rooms. But paper toys have survived and changed since these older forms of paper arts, and the current show at Pink Hobo Gallery in Northeast Minneapolis proves that in this technological age, people still enjoy paper playthings.

Pink Hobo has a reputation for art exhibitions that tend toward the lovable, and that’s not too much of a surprise. After all, they call themselves a “geek art” gallery and share space with PUNY, animators of many projects including the popular kids’ show Yo Gabba Gabba. This month the gallery walls are adorned with 3-D paper objects. But this isn’t the first time. They hosted their first Paper Toy & Pop Out Show in 2009.

For this year’s show, Paper Toy II, Pink Hobo recruited local, national, and international artists such as Sal Azad from Indonesia, Marko Zubak from Croatia, and Abi Braceros from Hawaii to share their creations.

There are a few different styles of paper arts on display, including boxy-shaped characters, moveable 2-D creations, and elaborate takes on the according-type folding style. Much of the art is for sale, except PUNY’s own concept art, and a few pieces are available, not yet assembled, printed on large sheets complete with instructions on how to construct it. But they look great as posters, too. At $10 a pop, it’s definitely reasonable to buy two, one to fold, one to frame.

Aesthetic Apperatus, for instance, has unassembled paper and ink creatures for sale. Fully constructed, these boxy little creatures are about 4 inches tall. And they are silly — one of them features an image of a smiling mouth, glinting with one gold tooth, where one might normally expect a face to be. Two small black dots are eyes, and they’ve designed gold and black plaid pants for the little thing, too.

Paper Toy - Aesthetic Apperatus

(credit: Coco Mault)

Jeremy Sengly’s piece, I’m not here to make friends, closely resembles a more traditional paper doll, in that the body is simple and one dimensional. But he’s combined this simple body with a more complicated topper. This character combines a simple one dimensional body with a very complicated, and, as the title suggests, a very impersonal, head. There is no face on this fellow, but it’s an interesting piece because of the 3-D pentagon-shaped head.

The Magician’s Assistant by Holly Peterson is quite an intricate piece. It’s reminiscent of the saw-a-woman-in-half magic trick, but with a romantic Victorian-era influence. Rather than placing a lovely lady in a plain black box, Peterson separated the lady’s top half from her bottom half with four tall, wood-grain embellished boxes filled with butterflies.

Paper Toy - Goresack The Destroyer

(credit: Coco Mault)

At first Matthew Eng’s Goresack the Destroyer looks a bit simpler than the 3D pieces it shares gallery space with. It is a large 2D piece, hand-colored with markers as opposed to the silk-screen inked or high-quality printed colors of the others. It is easily a stand-out piece because of its size and expert coloring. A large, angry blue monster wearing green sneakers holds up a frightened man over his head. The monster stretches the man over his head, his neck in one hand and the man’s feet in the monster’s other hand. Something this man did made the monster angry and gallery-goers are able to help complete this angry monster’s mission. Upon closer inspection, this piece is accompanied by instructions, but not on how to cut and fold like with the others, but to gently pull the monster’s be-skulled loin cloth. Pulling down on the loin cloth causes the monsters arms to spread, which causes the man to be pulled apart.

This is just a tiny sampling of what Paper Toy II has to offer, and there is time to see all the rest. The show will be on display at Pink Hobo through July 29.