Let Me Entertain You…

Far, far away, on a distant planet in another universe called Los Angeles in the 60s,
I appeared on Tom Hatton’s Saturday morning “Popeye Television Cartoon Show.”
During a break between cartoons, Tom showed a group of my paper sculptures
and talked about what a wonderful artist that Leo Monahan must be. I was sitting there smiling and nodding approval.

Then he said, “Leo is going to demonstrate how he makes all these wonderful things
from paper.”

I had my X-acto knife and scissors at hand as I spoke about the dangers of the blades and not to try this at home. Then I said I would make paper “somethings” for the kiddies
as I dramatically swept in a fresh sheet of Strathmore, 2-ply paper.

I positioned my left hand on the surface to hold it in place, and holding the knife above the paper, I looked into the camera and, in my best announcer’s voice announced,
“I will now cut something.”

I made a sweeping cut and nearly cut off the tip of my left index finger. I stood there for a long moment as I bled red all over the Strathmore, 2-ply paper, which was then the same shade of white as Tom Hatton’s face.

I didn’t panic. I was Mr. Cool, and with perfect on-camera composure I looked into the lens, smiled, and said, “That’s all folks!”

I’ve done a few demonstrations over the years but my “Popeye” cut-up has haunted me every time.

Last week I did three demonstrations at the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, in the rooms where my exhibit is being shown. They were on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, which turned out to be good days because the sessions were all well attended.

First Demo


First Demo Close-up

Sunday. I began with the same introduction of the X-acto knife and scissors including the warnings of not cutting yourself and, “don’t let the knife roll off the table and stick in the top of your foot!” This has happened to me several times and there isn’t a band-aid
big enough to hold down that fountain.

Second Demo

Tuesday. There were a few more people, and I elaborated about the different papers used in my paper sculptures including: water color paper, German wallpaper, specialty papers and hand made paper, (which I don’t make), and the different weights of the same Strathmore paper used in the Popeye slashing.

Of course, the warnings of the dangers of the tools of the trade were repeated,
and I added a very mild joke about something or other that went over well.

Third Demo


Third Demo Close-up

Thursday. Standing room only! Where had this bunch come from and how do they know about me? Must be that photo stuck on the bulletin board at the post office. Or, the nice write-up in the Asheville Citizen Times.

Same equipment warnings, paper information as before, and I did a lot of cutting, scoring, and bending. Leo Monahan showing off.

I tossed in two great dog jokes that are always safe in an unknown audience.
I cut geometric and organic examples and explained the use of simple and complex
symbols in communication and storytelling. I ran overtime because a big crowd
always asks questions.

It was fun for all, and I gave everyone a free poster just because no one fell asleep
for once.

Thanks for visiting me…


The Beauty From Wood: Natural & Paper Forms exhibit will be up until the end of this month. For more information, go to the Grovewood Gallery site.

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Leo Monahan is a pioneer of paper sculpture. His works are truly original with each piece being carefully designed and skillfully cut by hand. You could say that as a paper sculptor, Leo draws with his knife and as a paper artist he designs with the talent of an accomplished graphic artist and illustrator. Leo's works are for the most part inspired by his memories of life as young boy at the foot of Mount Rushmore. It was a life peopled with miners, loggers, cowboys, farmers, and the Sioux. One sees in his paper sculpture symbols of elements that surrounded him at that time, especially exotic plants, animals, masks, fishing flies, and wild bird feathers. Leo is unique in portraying these images and evoking feelings with the paper sculpture collage medium. His creations are a blend of Impressionism and Surrealism, and they come together to tell stories.