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Friday, December 19, 2014

Highland Park pays tribute to Mike Kelley*

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The foundation of a former carport notched into a Highland Park hillside has become a memorial and art piece dedicated to Mike Kelley, the internationally known conceptual artist who was found dead last week in his South Pasadena home after apparently committing suicide. During the 1990s, Kelley emerged on the Los Angeles art scene while working in a Highland Park studio at the corner of Figueroa Street and Annan Way, a short walk from the memorial now taking shape on the western tip of Tipton Way next to an empty lot.  Here,  Kelley’s admirers have been bringing candles, crocheted pieces and stuffed animals –  items that frequently appeared in his early work – and scrawling messages on the white walls in response to a posting on Facebook.  The memorial is based on two of Kelley’s artworks “More Love hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid” and “The Wages of Sin.

* Update: The unofficial memorial site was created by a Highland Park man who had known Kelley for several years and wanted a place for Kelley’s close friends and others  to express their sorrow and admiration. An hour after the title of the memorial piece was painted on the concrete wall,  people began to bringing afghan blankets and other items for the shrine, said the Highland Park resident, who wanted to remain anonymous. He said:

I was aware that when a friend passes, especially someone as admired as Mike, it can really help to have a place to go to, something to do and a place to deposit the pain and to honor him. I also believe that ritual is very important, and that grieving can include a creative process.

Click on the link below for more details about the memorial.

From a Highland Park resident:

Although I had known Mike Kelley for many years, I have a number or good friends that were very very close to him. So when I first received the tragic news of his passing, my immediate concerned was for those friends as well as the many people in the community that I knew this news would deeply affect. I was aware that when a friend passes, especially someone as admired as Mike, it can really help to have a place to go to, something to do and a place to deposit the pain and to honor him. I also believe that ritual is very important, and that grieving can include a creative process. Within a few hours I put together a facebook page for the location of the unofficial Mike Kelley Memorial and used his 1987 piece  “More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and The Wages of Sin” as a motif that we could pretty easily participate in. Mike’s original piece was constructed out of knitted afghan blankets, stuffed animals, dried corn and candles. The location for the memorial is an abandoned carport that is built into the hillside of an empty lot that is very close to my house. For many years I have had my eye on that carport and felt a sort of draw to it. The location also felt right because for many years Mike had lived just the street on Figueroa and until his passing maintained a studio there. So it just kind of clicked and felt like the right thing to do. With a heavy heart, I painted the title of the piece on the wall and within an hour some people hung a few beautiful afghan blankets and the shrine has continued to grow with hundreds of beautiful contributions. That space that sat empty for so many decades is now charged with life and love. Although Mike did not want a memorial service, I hope the communal creative memorial has been appropriate and helpful.



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One comment

  1. I hope someone keeps this safe from the impending rain.

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