Strange Neighbors: The Art and Imagination of Puppet Heap

March 18 - April 29, 2012

Did you know that Hoboken is home to one of the stars of the puppet-making world? The cover story from the Fall 2011 issue of The Puppetry Journal features Hoboken’s own Puppet Heap, an innovative design and fabrication studio that creates and brings to life some of the world’s most beloved characters by integrating both traditional and cutting-edge techniques to share stories with modern audiences.

Based in the Monroe Center building, “The Heap” is led by artist and entrepreneur Paul Andrejco and boasts a team of the industry’s most talented designers, performers and craftspeople. The studio began in 1992, just a few blocks away in Andrejco’s small Hoboken apartment. The company’s name was inspired by the pile of puppets in his apartment, but it has grown into an ever-expanding creative company that develops and designs characters for film, television, theater and the Web—collaborating with some of the biggest entertainment names in the world, including Sesame Workshop, The Walt Disney Company, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

Andrejco and the Heap also produce award-winning short films such as “Omar’s Mother,” “Ye Ballade of Ivan Petrofsky Skevar,” “I Knew an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” or most recently, “Mother Hubbard Among Others.” And they’ve designed a line of retail puppets, which hit the shelves in fall 2011. Like everything Puppet Heap creates, these puppets are designed to inspire storytelling through play.

The Museum is pleased to host an Upper Gallery exhibit of the puppets, set pieces, and props built by the Heap for some of these original short films. Join us at a free opening reception on Sunday, March 18, from 2 – 5 p.m.

Through the exhibit, visitors will see some of Andrejco’s original sketches and designs for the puppets and set pieces, as well as behind-the-scenes photography, and a few production photos of the films that were filmed in their Hoboken studio. A looped video will allow visitors to see Puppet Heap’s films. The puppets are incredibly detailed and beautifully built from a variety of materials: paper tape, fabric, fur, papier-maché, silicone, latex rubber, among many other materials. The display will bring a lot of the richness of the team’s creative process to the viewer and encourage the art of storytelling through puppetry.

Andrejco has been in the business of creating puppetry in media for over 20 years. Early in his career he worked at the Jim Henson Company as a puppet maker and character designer for the Muppets as well as countless other projects during his ten-year tenure. Since then, he has been a key contributor to such ground-breaking television shows as Bear in the Big Blue House, the Book of Pooh, Bookaboo and It’s a Big Big World; his designs and ideas can be found in many productions using puppets in film, television, advertising, theater and on the Web. If you saw the new Muppet movie that opened nationwide at Thanksgiving, you’ve seen the studio’s works—Walter, the star of the movie, was designed by Andrejco.

The exhibit is supported by a block grant from the State/County Partnership program for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.