The Silver Strand Art Group went to see Mike Kelley’s retrospective at the Geffen Center for Contemporary Art at MoCA on May 15, 2014. Kelley was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1954. He received his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in 1978 and became a leading figure in a group of Los Angeles artists which included Paul McCarthy and Tony Oursler with whom he often collaborated. More than any other artist of his period, he expanded the language of assemblage working in an extraordinary variety of media to express his political and philosophical views. He committed suicide in 2012 at age 58.
The group was moved by the exhibition and expressed their thoughts as follows:
Fred and Marilee Karlsen: Kelley’s art is deeply innovative, dark and delirious. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of our time.We toured the exhibition of more than 250 works, in every conceivable medium, including sculpture, performance, music, video, photography and painting. Reactions were as diverse as the exhibit. Some were fascinated by his sometimes strange works, others were repelled by his evident response to his troubled upbringing, others found at least some beauty in the exhibit.
Clarissa Cervantes:The day was filled with stimulating conversations and all enjoyed the tour. We got to experience Kelley’s work with it’s underlying sense of self-hood, social structures and repressed memories.
Nora Nicosia: Definitely an artistic rebel who worked in every medium and was a liberal in his philosophy about equality of opportunity for all artists and all people, right down to health care.
Angela Durrant: I did more research on Mike Kelley and found out that he was abused by his father when he was growing up and had an unhappy childhood. I think we all got this from his art. Christopher Knight, in his review of the show in the Los Angeles Times said that “the sprawling exhibition now has the restless feel of a morbid fun house. School is definitely out.” I think that I would agree with this.
Following the tour, the group went to Curry House in Japantown for lunch: