Press Release

October 20, 2021

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 
 MEDIA CONTACT: Brian Passey | [email protected] | 480-874-4626

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Presents New Works by New York and Mesa-based Artist Brad Kahlhamer

Brad Kahlhamer, “Nomadic Studio,” 2020. Courtesy of the artist. © Brad Kahlhamer.

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) presents “Brad Kahlhamer: Swap Meet,” on view from Feb. 26 to Oct. 9, 2022. The exhibition includes a central installation composed of a mobile home trailer studio with a built-out proscenium for performances and several new series of sculptures, in addition to paintings and drawings. 

Brad Kahlhamer first exhibited at SMoCA in 2004 with the hugely successful “Let’s Walk West.” For his second SMoCA exhibition — nearly 18 years later — Kahlhamer draws his inspiration from the ethnographic experience of fieldwork at swap meets throughout the Southwest, which he has engaged with since his childhood. 

“While he is better known for his expressive paintings, drawings, and sculptures, part of his practice is the exploration of social spaces that exist outside the mainstream. The title ‘Swap Meet’ suggests the possibility of transactions, in addition to transnationalities, of repurposing and recycling, of movement and border-lessness,” said Natasha Boas, guest curator of “Swap Meet.”  

Kahlhamer is an indigenous person adopted in infancy by a German American family; his biological parents and his tribal affiliation remain unknown to him. It is in this nationless identity space that the artist has created what he calls his “nomadic” itinerant contemporary art practice.   

The social and cultural space of the swap meet models and fuels Kahlhamer’s artistic practice in varying mediums of painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, performance and music. At the cross-section of various Native American cultures and his own culture as an artist, “Swap Meet” becomes Kahlhamer’s meditation on a nomadic and intersectional contemporary condition that involves a social network of individuals of different ages, residency status, class and race. 

The gallery will include a new series of “Zombie Botanicals” made from dried saguaro cactus parts, “Nomadic Studio Sketchbooks” with drawings from his travels, paintings, a large-scale dream catcher kinetic sculpture, a dream catcher American flag and new rock sculptures titled “Geologic studies / Mesa gardens,” among other elements. 

“Museumgoers will most likely feel like they are part of Brad Kahlhamer’s gallery swap meet — a communal participatory space that activates thought and meaning,” Boas said. “It is the curator and artist’s hope that the show will make people think more carefully about identity and nomadicity and what it means to be ’American’ today. ‘Swap Meet’ is a space where all the different segments of the American story come together.” 

Kahlhamer is inviting young Navajo country music star Dirt Rhodes to perform during the March 4, 2022, opening night celebration of “Swap Meet.” Dirt Rhodes is influenced by Indigenous rock and country bands from the past like the Zuni Midnighters, The Nomads and Sidney Poolheco. Dirt Rhodes creates original music that resonates with groups and artists who combined lo-fi garage rock, country and surf rock with lyrics that reflect their Indigenous heritage, pride, and the growing movement for Indigenous rights and sovereignty in the 1960s and ’70s. As a musician himself, Kahlhamer strives to provide opportunities for young artists to perform. More related programming will be announced over the course of the exhibition.

“The exhibition ‘Swap Meet’ aims to create a new locus for conversation around Kahlhamer’s place in recent art history,” said director and chief curator Jennifer McCabe. “The idea for the exhibition, the book and the curatorial project were born out of visits between the artist and curator from 2019 to 2021, including visits to the Apache Trail Swap Meet on East Main Street in Mesa, AZ. We aim to provide opportunities for artists to grow their practice, and as a mid-career artist of national and international significance, we are honored to turn the SMoCA galleries over to such a thought-provoking and talented artist as Brad Kahlhamer.” 

Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated artist book published by Temblores Publicaciones, the publishing house of Terremoto, Mexico City. The book features writing by the exhibition curator in addition to Gerald Raymond McMaster, a Plains Cree member of the Siksika Nation, a curator, artist, scholar and Chair of Indigenous Visual Culture and Curatorial Practice at OCAD University, Canada; and New York-based Mexican writer Eva Mayhabal Davis, curator, co-director of Transmitter and founder of El Salón.   

“Brad Kahlhamer: Swap Meet” is organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and guest curated by Natasha Boas, PhD. Exhibition support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

SMoCA would also like to thank its 2022 season sponsors: 
Billie Jo and Judd Herberger 
Airpark Signs & Graphics 
S. Rex and Joan Lewis Foundation 
Tamar Weiss, in memory of Emil Weiss