Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mike Kelley, 1954-2012

by Robert Boyd

I guess I first became aware of Mike Kelley's work in the late 1980s or early 90s. Larry Reid introduced it to me. Reid was a big fan. I first saw it when Reid, Pat Moriarty and I flew down from Seattle to hang Misfit Lit, a show I had helped curate, at LACE. While we were there, we went to see Helter Skelter, which was up at the big MOCA annex. Kelley had art in that show, but it was actually rather tame compared to some of his more notorious pieces. (I was more wowed by the Jim Shaw, Robert Williams, Lari Pittman, Nancy Rubins, and Manuel Ocampo work--but in general, I liked the show a lot.)

A few years later, I was manning the Kitchen Sink booth at the San Diego Comic-Con. I saw him walking buy and introduced myself as a big fan. (That kind of thing happens all the time at San Diego, but I bet it didn't happen all that often to Kelley...) I saw he had a piece of original comic art under his arm. I asked him what it was. With obvious pleasure, he showed me a Bill Woggin paper-doll page from the comic Katy Keene. Classic.

Reportedly, he committed suicide. Here are some videos of the man.

Kelley had excellent musical tastes!

Here are some of his Kandors (Kandor was a Kryptonian city miniaturized by Braniac in the Superman comics.)


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