In his free time, Brinckle meticulously constructed a miniature version of a grand movie palace in his basement. The Shalimar, as he called it, was not only fully functional (with nine authentic movie seats, a projection booth with a 16-mm projector, numerous speakers, and a working organ) but was also lushly designed and decorated with an obsessive attention to detail. Brinckle's "picture palace of renown," as he referred to it, adapted various theater styles of the twentieth century, boasting a marquee that distinctly recalls the 1960s; an auditorium decorated in the "semi-atmospheric" style of the 1930s, bringing the outdoors in through the use of fake foliage and wildlife; and three opulent working curtains. When filmmaker and photographer Kendall Messick, who used to live across the street from the Brinckle family as a boy, became reacquainted with his former neighbor during a visit home in 2001, he knew he had to document the theater and its one-of-a-kind creator.
In The Projectionist, Messick captures every detail of Brinckle's colorful fantasy world, including Brinckle's original artwork, architectural plans, drawings, and linoleum prints of imaginary movie theaters, ticket stubs, and usher uniform designs. An essay by curator Brooke Davis Anderson of the American Folk Art Museum looks at Gordon's work in the context of outsider art, and a foreword by artist, curator, and author Mark Sloan discusses Messick's photographic work.
"The ideal artist is unwilling to sacrifice his or her individuality to anything or anyone, particularly commercialism or outside control. Such artists often work in seclusion and their creations are uniquely pure. Gordon Brinckle is such an artist. [Messick's] photographs are both tender and authentic in the greatest sense, and I found myself as close to his subject as I ever could have hoped to be." —Albert Maysles, documentary filmmaker (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens)