Calder Brannock

Rinehart School of Sculpture graduate Calder Brannock ’10 received international attention for his MFA thesis project, a renovated 1967 Yellowstone camper retrofitted as a pristine art gallery complete with white walls and hardwood floors. Blake Gopnik, Washington Post chief art critic, said he was “especially keen” on Calder’s project because he “gave up the standard job of making the art in favor of providing an occasion for others to make work and show it.”

Because of this selfless innovation, Brannock was presented the PULSE Presents Award, a top honor allowing him to have an exhibition space at PULSE Contemporary Art Fair Miami 2010, for his Camper Contemporary. As Gopnik ironically put it: “He gets a free exhibition space... to show his exhibition space.”

The shows he mounts within the small space are a product of Brannock’s offer of an artist residency of sorts, what he calls Adventure: The Camper Contemporary Residency Program, offering the opportunity for fellow creatives to go on a one-day excursion to a site he chooses that should serve as artistic inspiration. Once the place-inspired art is made, he exhibits it in the roving gallery.

Adventure “is an experiment in creating new forms of curation,” the 25-year-old said. “One of the most interesting aspects of Camper Contemporary’s excursion to Miami Basel [2009] was sharing the experience with a group of nine artists I brought on the trip. I became interested in creating short travel experiences for groups of artists to participate in.”

With support from MICA’s Office of Research, Brannock retrofitted the camper last fall and traveled with several fellow students down to Miami, showing the work of 15 artists in an exhibition appropriately titled Here or There in the camper-turned-studio to people on the streets throughout the city, visiting different venues throughout the four-day, citywide festival.

For his MFA thesis exhibition, Brannock parked the camper in MICA’s Cohen Plaza and mounted work from two trips with artists to Curtis Bay on the Chesapeake coastline. He then drove it to Washington, D.C., to take part in Conner Contemporary’s Academy 2010 exhibition, where he won the PULSE honor for an exhibition housed within the camper of five artists’ excursions to sites linked to John Wilkes Booth. The trailer “poses a solution for many problems a gallery faces in the modern art market,” Brannock said. “The mobile gallery model allows the gallerist to maintain a physical space where work can be displayed with all the benefits and gravitas of a traditional gallery while easily reaching collectors at art fairs and other large art markets.”

At PULSE, which takes place concurrently with Art Basel, Brannock will showcase the work of artists who go on Adventure with him in late October.