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Brandon Bullard

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

"#29: Midnight Oil", Brandon Bullard, mixed media, front and side view
"#29: Midnight Oil", mixed media, front and side view

Brandon Bullard’s new piece of commissioned art tracks the timeless appeal of Mercedes-Benz

There are certain pieces of art that make an indelible mark on the viewer, and such was the case with an installation created by Brandon Bullard for the 2016 Experiencing Perspectives art exhibition, hosted by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services at their offices in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The annual exhibition features the work of students and graduates of Cranbrook Academy of Art, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, as part of a long-standing partnership with the company.

Bullard, a 2017 graduate of the Academy, created a striking custom work that was displayed for the one-year duration of the exhibition. Due to the high degree of interest in this initial piece, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services subsequently commissioned Bullard to create a smaller-scale execution of the concept to be part of its growing permanent collection.

The original work, entitled #26: MBFS, consisted of branded promotional items,-from banners to beach towels. Quilting, weaving and collage processes were then used to piece together a storyboard surface within the ceiling of the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services building, that highlighted important products, services, awards and values of the company.

Emotional ties to brand inspire creativity

Bullard has an emotional tie to the Mercedes-Benz brand because of his grandparents, who were brand aficionados. “My grandma would travel to Germany to get the latest model,” Bullard explains. He also drew upon the synergy created by channeling his emotional tie into the pursuit of his graduate studies.

Creating #26: MBFS was the first time Bullard worked onsite to create a piece. He was in the Farmington Hills building when it opened at 8 a.m. and typically worked straight through until 11 p.m., for one week. He finalized the details a mere one hour before his presentation.

Bullard says that he enjoyed the camaraderie that came from the employees as they watched his work evolve in their building and asked questions about the process.

“I loved meeting new people and talking with them, and the best part was, as far as I was concerned, there was no hierarchy and I didn’t know who was who,” Bullard says. “That’s how I ended up talking with the company president and didn’t even know it.”

Reimagining the piece: Warhol, Mercedes-Benz brand come together

Bullard recently completed and delivered a second, smaller-scale version of the piece, #29: Midnight Oil, which is now part of the company’s permanent collection. He used a color palette that was inspired by a commissioned Andy Warhol piece that is installed in the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services offices, near Bullard’s work.

To make the piece timeless, nearly 90 percent of it uses the tire track concept, although he also was able to repurpose some of the branded materials he had used in the initial installation; upon closer examination, a viewer can glimpse them among the tracks.

He refers to the finished piece as a “sculptural quilt,” — sculptural in the sense that one can walk around it to gain a new perspective from every position, and “quilt” because he stitched together the various materials using traditional quilting techniques inside a frame.

The piece is aptly named Midnight Oil, not only for the obvious reference to the automotive industry, but also because that’s how the piece was created—by burning the midnight oil, Bullard says. He would perform his “day job” with the Urban Outfitters design team in San Jose, California, from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and then head to his studio to create, six days a week.

Of course each artistic endeavor brings with it unanticipated hurdles; Bullard was surprised at the effort it took to “track” down tires for the new prints, in contrast to the easy access he had had in Detroit. He made several calls in the San Jose area before he found someone willing to let him borrow a used tire to roll across the fabric. Then the next hurdle was shipping it across the country, which was carefully carried out via special crates.

Writing his next chapter

“I have the pleasure of sitting across from Brandon Bullard’s Midnight Oil installation,” says Kathy Chabot, Administrative Assistant to the President. “It’s bright and colorful with four pieces angled together to look like one. Often, I see people stop and admire Brandon’s work, as well as talk about it. He’s a very talented artist.”

As Mercedes-Benz Financial Services employees enjoy #29: Midnight Oil, Bullard is contemplating new creative opportunities after moving back to his hometown of Denver in July 2018. “I am so thankful for the opportunities [Mercedes-Benz Financial Services] gave me. I am better as an artist, thanks to the growth I’ve had throughout this process,” he says, especially pointing out the joy he had in working with the company every step of the way, from inspiration to creative direction to promotion.

To view Brandon Bullard and other artists’ work at the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services offices, you may RSVP to the Experiencing Perspectives Art Reception, to be held on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m.


Car engine parts shine in new “Wallwork” installation, Ignite

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Celebrated French painter Henri Matisse once said, “A large part of the beauty of a picture arises from the struggle which an artist wages with his limited medium.”

Matisse, who once designed an entire church—Chapelle du Rosaire—and everything in it, clearly understood that every medium and each canvas large and small presents its own limits and challenges for the artist. The opportunity of the artistic struggle was one the students of Colette Laliberté’s Painting in the Expanded Field class at OCAD University, an art, design and media university, soon came to understand when they selected a medium they had never before used.

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Return on installation

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

We all know the term “return on investment.” It tells us whether an investment has been profitable. But what about the promotion of art and culture? Can we measure the “return on installation” in euros and cents – or in a very different kind of currency?

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M-B Financial uses art to sell the abstract

Monday, December 14th, 2015

DETROIT — A slender, fashionable, young woman sporting a pixie haircut stands next to five marionettes, cut from tar paper in silhouette style, hanging on a wall at the suburban Detroit offices of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

The woman is artist Ivy Johnson. She’s there to discuss her stringed creations with the captive finance company’s employees. “Most want to know: What was my inspiration?” Johnson says. (Hint: She calls the grouping Imaginary Friends.)

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Digital Painting workshop brings creativity to corporate setting

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Staff at Mercedes Benz Financial Services (MBFS) in Mississauga took part in a unique digital painting workshop in November. OCAD University faculty member Veronika Szkudlarek, accompanied by student Dahae Song, visited MBFS offices for an exploration of the fundamentals of Digital Painting and Expanded Animation (DXPA).

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Trinity Spadina MPP Han Dong recognizes OCAD University in the Legislature

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Trinity Spadina MPP Han Dong rose in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to recognize OCAD University’s contribution to the cultural community following the opening of the exhibition Experiencing Perspectives at Mercedes Benz Financial Services.

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OCAD University art exhibition opens at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Ninety-nine works by 74 OCAD University students, alumni and faculty were unveiled October 21 in the Mississauga offices of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services (MBFS). At the opening of the Experiencing Perspectives exhibition, President and CEO Stefan Karrenbauer thanked the artists for bringing creativity and art appreciation to the workplace.

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Berlin Inspires Cranbrook Graduate

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Emerging Artist explores unexpected contrast between concept and materials

Partnering with local art institutions allows Mercedes-Benz Financial Services in the U.S. and Canada to create partnerships that inspire diversity of thought and new ways of thinking. In addition to the exhibitions that display the artists’ work, each year one student from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is awarded the opportunity to work in Berlin, Germany for two months.

The goal is to support emerging artists through more than just financial donations. By providing artists with an entire experience, the company promotes diversity and a global perspective on artwork.

This is the tenth year Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has given the Emerging Artist Award to a Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate— In 2015, it was presented to Aaron Patrick Decker. Decker, the 2015 metalsmithing graduate, recently returned from his two-month stay at the Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien with new artwork creations, many interesting stories and memories that will last a lifetime. Along with his residency, Decker received a $5,000 expense stipend, a vehicle to use during his stay and an art pass that grants free access to museums in Berlin.

“I went with an idea, but that quickly flipped,” Decker said. “I changed my entire vision and idea after my arrival in Berlin.”

Decker specializes in jewelry-making with a twist of military inspiration. During his residency, he explored a new medium that involved knitting strands of tiny beads to form shapes and garments. He contributes the idea behind his designs to the post-9/11 world and the generation of kids who were born after.

“The inspiration for my work also relates back to the Berlin Wall,” said Decker. “There’s this underlying prejudice between East and West Berlin still alive today. People are pushing against these stereotypes, but also owning and embodying them.”

The opportunity to work in Berlin allowed Decker to take time for himself by exploring Berlin and meeting and collaborating with German artists in the area. Decker hails from the east coast of the U.S., but has decided to remain in Detroit to establish his artistic practice.

The artwork created during Decker’s summer residency in Berlin will be unveiled at the company’s 2015 Experiencing Perspectives art reception in Farmington Hills on Thursday, Oct. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. To RSVP for the event, visit www.mbfs-art.com/events.


Art program could help shape auto industry’s next creative minds

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Thursday night, I went to a fundraiser, called #onthefridge, for Art Road. This group arranges supplies and teachers for art classes and programs for schoolchildren in Detroit and southeast Michigan.

It does more than that, but that’s the core mission: Let kids have an art class. Too many schools across the U.S. have had to cut those classes.

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Mercedes-Benz Financial Services’ 15th Annual Experiencing Perspectives Art Exhibition

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services’ Experiencing Perspectives art program creates an environment for employees in which contemporary art plays a large role. The idea behind the program is to invigorate creative and inspirational work. The program offers annual art exhibitions, art tours, community conversations and other events.

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Of Shoes, Awards, Patrons, and Fracture Fairies

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

On last month’s blog, from my post-surgical hospital bed, I wrote that there were many fine Detroit literary events that I would regretfully miss in September due to my fractured ankle. I’m home now, a 4-lb cast to the good, not getting out much, but I was thrilled to attend the 2014 Knight Art Detroit Challenge Grant Awards October 6 at Detroit’s Fillmore Theatre. It makes me proud to be part of the Detroit artistic community, with amazing ideas percolating up from everywhere – new and veteran groups, individual artists, literary, dance, drumming, neighborhood art projects – all being awarded for their creativity by the Knight Foundation’s vision and generosity.

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Cranbrook Academy of Art students receive more than $100,000 in awards

Monday, August 25th, 2014

On the eve of its 2014 commencement ceremonies, Cranbrook Academy of Art celebrated another year of outstanding work by its faculty and graduate students at its annual Academy Awards Night on May 8.

Before a gathering of more than 200 students, families, friends and donors in deSalle auditorium at Cranbrook Art Museum, the Academy conferred more than $100,000 in fellowships, grants, awards and scholarships, including nine distinguished awards for artistic excellence. The awards are designed to support study at the Academy and to aid 2014 graduates in the transition from student to practicing artist.

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