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Fleishman has new exhibit to show off cardboard artwork

Andre Lamar
Milford Beacon
Cardboard artist Michael Fleishman, of Milford, won a 2020 art fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure for one artist in Milford.

Michael Fleishman creates art using cardboard by illustrating on it and making a collage of cardboard to create unique pieces. Some of his works are square, but others break the mold with round shapes.

Fleishman earned a 2020 “Emerging Artist” fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts. He was awarded a grant for $3,000 that must be used on supplies and/or other endeavors to help support his art.

The cardboard artist has over 50 pieces on display in a new exhibit at Gallery 37. The show ends Nov. 6.

Fleishman spoke to the Milford Beacon about how relocating to Delaware inspired his desire for cardboard art, how he spent his grant money, and how pizza plays a crucial role in some of his work.

What inspired you to work on cardboard?

Drawing and painting is my thing. You look for the right surface to draw and to paint on. I was taught you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make good art. And you don’t need esoteric materials and supplies to make good art. It just hit me, why throw this stuff out? That’s what everybody does. That’s what I do and that’s what I intended to do, to recycle it out. But there might be a more fun way to recycle it. Let’s recycle it and make some sort of art with it.

Cardboard artist Michael Fleishman, of Milford, created this piece of art using a pizza round.

When did you get serious about using cardboard?

When we moved here from Ohio in 2015, I had to get rid of 300 boxes that got us here. I was cutting this stuff up, cutting it down and looking and feeling it and saying, “Yeah, this is a nice surface. Let’s try working with this.” Cardboard turns out to be a wonderful surface to draw and paint on. I mostly did drawings, but it’s a great surface to work on. It’s like a stiffer piece of paper.

Is there a theme to your work in this new exhibit?

There is. If I go to a pizza restaurant, I’ll ask if there’s any of those pizza rounds that they can give me. I’ll usually ask for one or two, but most of them are really nice, especially the Pizza Palace here in Milford. You can ask for one pizza round and they’ll come out and give you 10 or 12 of them. The round circles that I sent you of my art are all done on pizza rounds. They’re all unused, of course [laughs].

Cardboard artist Michael Fleishman, of Milford, created this piece of art using a cardboard pizza round.

Some of your designs feel a little industrial and a bit tribal. Is that accurate?

You mentioned a few things: industrial, mechanical and tribal. That is incorporated in a lot of these pieces. I’ve got a thing for drawing ductwork and robot/mechanical kinda stuff. When I started out I was a figure drawer. I still am and love to draw people. I wasn’t really much of an abstract or non-representational kinda guy. At some point, that kinda took over. I still draw cartoons and teach cartoon classes at the Mispillion Art League. I’m still involved in drawing and painting. But doing the mechanical, tribal and industrial look of these cardboard pieces has really taken off.

What did you spend your grant on?

The first thing I did was I got new lighting down in the studio, which I’ve wanted for a long time. Then I had someone build what they call an “art wall.” I have two art walls down there, it’s like an L-shape. Here I can put the art up and study it, and check it out anytime I walk down there. I had half of the wall built two years ago, but then this money came in and we built another wall. I buy a lot of supplies and a lot of materials. I don’t have to buy cardboard, that’s for sure. But I have become quite a connoisseur of esoteric scissors.

IF YOU GO

WHAT Cardboard art exhibit

WHEN 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; exhibit ends Nov. 6

WHERE Gallery 37 at 8 S. Walnut St., Milford

MORE INFO Visit Gallery 37 or 265-2318