Brad Kahlhamer’s Search for His Indigenous Roots from Manhattan to Mesa, Arizona

Originally, they had planned for the trailer to become Kahlhamer’s studio within the Mesa Swap Meet. “We would have a 24/7 video to record all the interactions with him and the Swap Meet community and transients,” Boas continued, “a social practice project where Brad worked on his nomadic notebooks and interacted with folks.”

Ultimately, they took another route, and the trailer has become the centerpiece of the SMoCA exhibition. The vehicle had to be fumigated and outfitted to meet safety measures; it now includes a stage and a new entrance and exit. “I think people were living there, crawling in at night,” Kahlhamer said of the trailer’s former life. “There was some pretty nasty stuff; it needed an insane fumigating bomb thing, and it had a lot of water damage, but once it dried out, it actually was really great.” Inside, the trailer is filled with Kahlhamer’s drawings, watercolors, Kachina figures, taxidermy, and some bleached-out plastic shell chairs that he stenciled with images of Indian chiefs.

While the trailer is the main attraction at the SMoCA exhibition, there is also a knockout, large-scale Super Catcher—a giant, mother of all Dream Catchers hanging from the ceiling, made from wire, bells, and jingle cones.


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