Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kelley's Heroes

A packaged group of objects from Valley Thrift in Fairfield, Oh.  I asked one of the sales people there how objects were chosen for these "goodie bags," and he told me that the people who work in the back just set aside the crap they think no one would want to buy and at the end of the week they take all that stuff and slide into baggies in an arbitrary fashion and slap 49-cent pricetags on them.  There you go. 

A Mike Kelley piece.

Another Kelley piece.

A photo of the Valley Thrift in Hamilton, Oh.  Very inspiring for "Small Potatoes."

Another shot of Valley Thrift.

Another "goodie bag."

Mike Kelley died this week.  It doesn't matter how or why to me.  It's just fucking sad. 

I was thinking about him last week and a couple weeks before. 

Last week because we were at the Outsider Art Fair and there were a number of paintings and sculptures that seemed to hum his sick sweet little songs.  A couple weeks before because we're curating this new Thunder-Sky, Inc. show called "Small Potatoes:  Self-Made (and Re-Purposed) Knick-Knacks, Tchtokes, and Other Curiosities."  It's a group show featuring artists who create small sculptures and paintings, intermingled with a collection of "knick-knacks" and "tchtokes" discovered in thrift-stores and other places.  

I have been haunting thrift stores here in Southwest Ohio for the last couple weeks (for inspiration and also to pick up some knick-knacks and other crap), and upon entering the first one I felt Kelley's presence emanating through all the objects before me:  stuffed toys, bedspreads, clothes, belts, blenders, computers, all scuffed, worn, blurry, and yet somehow glittering with the meaning of being cast away. 

The junk pile was Kelley's cauldron.  And from it he conjured spells that overreached and then transcended their commonplace origins.  He made nightmarish lullabies and plush creepy vignettes that had no way of being categorized outside of themselves.  He seduced with glumness and grit, and made you believe that art has a meaning outside of words and trends and even thoughts.  

So "Small Potatoes" is a hymn to him.  A very humble, a very unimportant prayer, but a prayer anyway.  

God bless his soul.