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Mark Brandl

Mark Brandl

Switzerland-based artist | Curator, Collapsible Kunsthalle | Class of 1978

From 4,500 miles away, Mark Brandl remembers the "crazy, wild, party days" a little less vividly than the "far more intense study-and-create days."

But there were plenty of both during the budding artist's 1970s stay here.

"I lived in the Florida Avenue Residence Hall upon first entering the U of I," Brandl says from Switzerland, where he's the curator at the Collapsible Kunsthalle. "There, I met several people with whom I later lived in two rather run-down, yet enjoyably unique, houses.

"One house in Champaign, one in Urbana, with the aforementioned Robert Carrillo, Marcos Rivera and Jeff Piediscalzi.

"I also lived in the first floor of a residential house with a friend, a woman, Teri Yerly,  with whom I had gone to high school. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the address. It had a nice Midwestern porch, such as I now miss in Europe. It was a rather quick bus ride — or on my small motorcycle — to the Fine Arts Building from there, where I had most of my classes.

"Ah, the talented Gospel-singing bus driver I sometimes had. I had a couple receptions at that house for visiting art speakers which I remember well. Those days of just beginning to see who we were as artists and what we wanted to do. Discussions, conversations, debates, especially with my best friend since we were 10 years old, and still to this day, who lived not far away and also went to the U of I as an undergrad: Thomas Emil Homerin.

"Now a professor at the University of Rochester, he found his future in comparative religion studies. Our intense dialogues were filled with the new discoveries we were making in art, philosophy, science and more. Wonderful, foundational times.

"For that, I will forever cherish the twin cities. I revisited several of my favorite C-U places in 2008 when I had a painting-installation in the Krannert Art Museum in the 'Out of Sequence' exhibition.

"Champaign-Urbana was and is a great place to learn and be inspired."