Projectionist film, exhibit at WFU drawing widespread interest
March 7, 2007
"The Projectionist,” a multimedia exhibit about 91-year-old projectionist and self-taught artist Gordon Brinckle (pronounced brink-lee) on display at Wake Forest University’s Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery through March 18, has begun to draw widespread interest from curators and museum directors around the nation.
The exhibition, created by Wake Forest graduate Kendall Messick, features Brinckle’s private, 1930s-style movie theater, 40 photographs by Messick, original theater drawings and designs by Brinckle, historical photographic documentation on Brinckle’s life, and a documentary film by Messick.
Mark Sloan, director of The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at The College of Charleston and co-author of “Self-Made Worlds: Visionary Folk Art Environments,” visited Wake Forest shortly after the exhibit opening and immediately scheduled the show for Aug. 24 through Oct. 13.
"I consider Mark a leading expert on contemporary art, particularly in the world of self-taught and folk art. I am thrilled he wants the exhibit in Charleston,” Messick said. “Professionals from several other prominent institutions nationwide are also considering the project, and I’m currently working through the submission process with them.”
The exhibit is also scheduled to travel to the John Michael Kohler Fine Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wis.
According to Victor Faccinto, director of the Hanes Art Gallery, the show, which premiered Feb. 8, has had a steady stream of visitors and is producing a rare emotional effect in art professionals who visit.
"Art professionals tend to look at exhibits very objectively—considering logistics and other practical issues. ‘The Projectionist’ is affecting them in a deeply emotional way. I repeatedly hear them say this is one of the best shows they have ever seen and they love it. This is not language these people normally use,” Faccinto said.
The exhibition highlights a portion of Brinckle’s theater, “The Alvin Shalimar.” Built in the basement of his Delaware home over the course of 50 years, it embodies Brinckle’s fascination with the movie palaces of yesteryear and features 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.
“The Shalimar Theatre is an astounding work of art,” Brooke Davis Anderson, director and curator of The Contemporary Center at the American Folk Art Museum, said. “Gordon Brinckle is the first person to inventively recreate a movie house in three dimensions. He 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.
At the exhibit, a 30-minute documentary, also titled “The Projectionist,” runs on the actual Shalimar screen. It was filmed in 2003 almost entirely from Brinckle’s basement theater.
Messick’s first full documentary, “Corapeake,” received critical acclaim. Its success led him to create an installation of still photography from the film, which also premiered at Wake Forest in 2001. Since then, “Corapeake” 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.
Messick 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.
For more information on “The Projectionist,” visit www.theprojectionist.net.
"The Projectionist” will run at the Hanes Gallery through March 18. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, call (336) 758-5585.
To arrange media coverage, contact Pam Barrett at (336) 758-5237.