As I was sayin’, people do really cool things with trailers.  Let’s take the work of Paul Villinski, who found inspiration in post-Katrina New Orleans and transformed a basic issue FEMA trailer into a “Emergency Response Studio”. Villinski says that he found himself in NOLA in 2006, wanted to immerse himself in the culture and create work, but he needed a studio. Voila. Trailer + taste = contemporary, relevant artwork.

Like the folks at Side Street Projects and some other people looking at the future of sustainable, affordable housing, Villinski went 100% off the grid. Solar, baby.

Of course he did. As my trailer project unfolds and I educate myself, it is now clear that not only does everyone bleeping already have a trailer, they ALL have an off-the-grid trailer. You are soo uncool if you are in the minority dredges, and I do mean dredges, left behind.

This is even more surprising given how maligned trailers are. I mean come on- let’s play a little work association game here, folks. First Up: “Trailer”. Take yer time.

How, did you say, “Vacation” or even “Camping”?

How ‘bout “Adventure”?


How ‘bout  maybe “Green”? “Art”?  “Vintage”? “Open Road”? “Route 66”? Or even “Emergency Response Studio???

 No. No. No. And No.

No, Honey, say it with me: You said- “TA-RAAA-ASH”.  

I know you did. (Unless you are, God Bless him, Paul Villinski.) And if we say sumpin’ like oh, I dunno, “Trailer Park”- well, you already got you a visual of a knocked-up teenager and some chain smoking’ alky-holics. Cussin’ at each other at 3 am, naturally.

Sooo sad. But so true.

I went and saw Villinski and his truly kick-ass trailer at a show featuring it at Rice University. Yes, that Rice University. Pretty fancy place.  I mean, you gotta hand it to the guy- he took the nastiest of trailers- a- shudder- FEMA trailer and made it into something so stylish and light-filled you could open a damn café in it. The show was beautifully executed, interesting and hands-on. Plus, Villinski makes exquisite models and he had a sa-weet one of his trailer. I loved it. I coveted it. Didn’t have one in the gift shop, though, and alas it wouldn’t fit discreetly in my purse.

But, seriously: Rice can’t find a local, or at least a Southerner, with a trailer? We have to find a Noo Yawk Artiste to validate the trailer as worthy? Harrumph.  Is the trailer as Art really so paradoxal? Sigh. One of those accepted ironies, I suppose.

Actually, though, Villinski was just charming- he seems like a sincere and down-to-earth guy with a way of looking at the world and making art that just radiates gentle cool.  Can’t even make any snooty cracks about him because he is too bloody talented. His work is delicate and subtle. Plus, he did lots of the work on the ERS trailer with one of his best friends, who just happens to be an architect… I mean, totally Muddy Mary to my 1950 Spartan.  Once again we see how trailers just invite collaboration. They are a social thing. And, contrary to common belief, beautiful. I just can't believe the light wood interior of the ERS was a coincidence. It looked, surprisingly, like some of the cleaner interpretations of vintage trailers. ART. It makes the world a better place.

Up next folks: I’m hitting the Vintage Trailer Rally in San Antonio next week-end. Of course, I can only go to the open-to- the public day because I’m not good enough to join the Official Airstream Club ‘cuz I only have a, ohh, I dunno,  J. Paul Getty-approved Spartan. Neyeah. 

Matt "PappaSmurf" Honeycutt
12/2/2009 10:23:23 am

Love the start of the story and am looking at a ugly gutted spartan mansion project myself that I really shouldn't do. How is your story coming along? Grace and Peace Out.

Matt "PappaSmurf"


Leave a Reply.