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Never-before-seen movie palace focus of Wake Forest art exhibit

January 19, 2007

A portion of “The Alvin Shalimar,” a carefully preserved, 1930s-style, private working theater will be rebuilt in Wake Forest University’s Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery for its next multimedia exhibition which will run Feb. 8 to March 18.  The opening reception will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8

This will be the first time The Shalimar will be seen by the public.  For nearly 50 years, it has been the hidden jewel and private sanctuary of 91-year-old, self-taught artist Gordon Brinckle (pronounced brink-lee).  Now, it is part of Kendall Messick’s film and photographic exhibition called “The Projectionist.”

The exhibition, which provides a glimpse into Brinckle’s movie palace fantasy world and life as a projectionist, features 40 color photographs by Messick, original drawings and designs by Brinckle, and historical photographic documentation on Brinckle’s life. 

Also as part of the exhibition, Messick’s documentary “The Projectionist” will run on the actual Shalimar screen.  The documentary was filmed in 2003 almost entirely from Brinckle’s basement theater and reveals the life and passion of the movie palace creator in his own words.

During the exhibit opening Feb. 8, the documentary will be shown at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in Scales Fine Arts Center Art Department, Room 102, and Messick will give a personal introduction. 

A fascination with the movie palaces of yesteryear is what inspired Brinckle to begin creating The Shalimar in the basement of his modest Delaware home in 1959.  It featured four working curtains, a movie screen, an auditorium with nine movie seats bolted to the floor, a marquee and ticket office, a projection booth with 16 mm projectors and an organ alcove with a working organ. 

Gallery visitors will be able to see half of the theater.  Messick is raising funds to be able to add the remaining part of the theater to the traveling exhibit. 

According to Brooke Davis Anderson, director and curator of The Contemporary Center at the American Folk Art Museum, Brinckle is the first person to inventively recreate a movie house in three dimensions.  “The Shalimar Theatre is an astounding work of art,” Anderson said.  “Brinckle makes us nostalgic for his vision of a night at the theater.”

Michelle Anne Delaney, associate curator of the photographic history collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, has called “The Projectionist” an extraordinary accomplishment.  “Messick incorporates personal narratives, still photography and video to chronicle an American life and changing times.  His emphasis on the elderly and the intimate experience of aging should be poignant and compelling to all viewers,” Delaney said. 

Messick works with photography and film to tell the stories of aging individuals often overlooked today.  He is a graduate of Wake Forest and studied photography at the School of Visual Arts and the International School of Photography in New York.  He was the still photographer for the documentary video, “There is No Such Word as Can’t” and the associate producer and still photographer of “Here and Now,” a documentary on the gypsies of Bulgaria. 

“Corapeake,” Messick’s first full documentary as a director, has received critical acclaim.  Its success led Messick to create an installation of still photography from the film.  The “Corapeake” exhibition has been traveling to galleries and museums throughout the United States, and Messick’s photography is in numerous public and private collections, including the Smithsonian Institution and The Museum of Modern Art. 

For more information on “The Projectionist,” visit

The Hanes Gallery will also feature “After-Migrations,” the recent paintings of Susan Brenner, in the Mezzanine Gallery.  Brenner is an award-winning painter who also works in photography and digital media.  

She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California.  Currently, she is an associate professor in the department of art at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  A gallery talk with Brenner will be announced at a later date.   

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.  Admission to the gallery, exhibit openings and gallery talks is free.

For more information, call (336) 758-5585.

Interviews and morning show segments can be arranged.  To arrange coverage, contact Pam Barrett at (336) 758-5237.

Press Contacts:

Pam Barrett
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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