Mariposa Museum: Cardboard art & more in latest exhibit

Music, Sacred Text, Cardboard art Fuse in Huge Animal Sculptures at Mariposa 

“Haunting,” “mysterious,” “mind-boggling…” These are some of the adjectives heard when people encounter the newest exhibit at the Mariposa Museum in Peterborough, Rich Entel’s Cardboard Menagerie. 

The exhibit opened this week and is open Tuesdays through Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through May 30th. An official opening Spring Party will be held April 2nd from 6:30 to 9 p.m.,  featuring a talk by the artist, a reading by Coretta Scott King Award winning author and illustrator Ashley Bryan, and music by the gypsy jazz band, Gypsy Nights.

In the exhibit, nine life-sized animal heads constructed of discarded cardboard, sacred Tibetan and Hebrew text, and broken musical instruments form a circle in the Mariposa’s soaring, light-filled exhibit hall. A buffalo, wart hog, stag, giraffe, lion, alligator, and elephant gaze at the visitor with soulful eyes, as an owl and stork arrive overhead. At the center of the circle, a small girl-like figure made of wax stands in a violin case, revolving, conductor’s wand raised, stopping at each figure in turn.

The Menagerie is the creation of Portland, Maine-based artist Rich Entel. A physician as well as an artist, Entel has managed to combine both careers with apparent ease. Soon after completing medical school in the 1980s, he was awarded a residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and he was a fellow at the MacDowell Art Colony in Peterborough in 1993. He has exhibited extensively since then working as a family doctor in Maine. Over the last decade, he has also worked with people impacted by substance addictions.

An alcove in the Mariposa adjacent to the main exhibit touches on the interplay between Entel’s two careers as it traces the roots and also the emotion of ideas explored in Cardboard Menanagerie.

Those roots, Entel says, reach back to his days as a medical student in New York in the 1980s, when he observed the surge of homelessness that marked those times as well as the baffling start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“Many people were living on the streets, some in cardboard boxes,” Entel says. “It was an intense period. “Art offered a way of seeing what was around me. The part of me that was becoming a physician wanted to help and change the situation. The artist part of me was learning to see people and situatoins as they were and to feel and express the difficult emotions.”

Entel’s friendship with Ashley Bryan (his art teacher at Dartmouth), his love of music, travels to India, residencies at Skowhegan and MacDowell, and his medical practice all continued to influence his art.

Menagerie is a hauntingly joyful exhibit that will delight and amaze young people and adults alike. Prior to the Mariposa it debuted at the Maine Jewish Museum in Portland and at the Dunedin Art Center in Florida.

“We’ve fallen in love with these animal beings,” said Mariposa Executive Director Karla Hostetler. “There really is no way to easily describe them. The exhibit will mean something different to everyone.”

Sketch books are provided to visitors who would like to experience the animals through the medium of art. The musical instruments from around the world that are displayed throughout the museum and which can be played by visitors add to the multimedia experience.

The opening party April 2nd promises to be a lively and fun event, with an opportunity to meet Rich Entel, enjoy gypsy jazz music, hear a poem from Ashley Bryan (Carl Sandburg’s poem Wilderness is a part of the exhibit) and enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by C’est La Vie of Peterborough. Tickets are $35 and reservations are recommended by calling the Mariposa at 603-924-4555.

The Mariposa is located at 26 Main Street in Peterborough, NH. For further information, visit our Web site at or call (603) 924-4555.

The Mariposa gratefully acknowledges the sponsors who have helped to make Rich Entel’s Cardboard Menageriepossible at the museum. They include Joyce and Don Healy, Nancy Roberts, Judy and Jim Putnam, Bob and Dita Englund, Sarah Kendall, the Jubilee Fund, and Eileen Sarson.

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