These are two pieces (a video and a sculpture) from a series the late artist Mike Kelley made about Superman and Kandor, his birthplace that was miniaturized and kept on life support by the evil Lex Luthor
Ok first off, a word of advice. Don’t wait till the last weekend to see a wildly popular art exhibit. It makes the whole experience slightly annoying and fraught with waiting in lines, from the coat check, to some of the galleries, to the cafe.
That said, if you haven’t yet seen the Mike Kelley retrospective at MOMA’s PS1 (which closes after this weekend), you should by all means ignore my advice and go check it out. And bring your kids, too. This is the kind of work that speaks to all ages.
What kid won’t be into giant hanging balls of fused stuffed animals?
Generally considered one of the most influential artists of our time, Kelley’s work spans many media, and is at times funny, sarcastic, sad, meditative, playful, jarring and beautiful. There is work about Superman, Plato, and serial killers, meticulously constructed architectural models of every school Kelley attended, giant floating balls made of color coordinated stuffed animals, and films of a painted satyr frolicking through a psychedelic wood. ANd that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Kelley was a busy man.
This piece is called Pay For Your Pleasure. There’s a donation box outside, a long hall lined with portraits of various luminaries commenting on the close relationship between creativity and being an outlaw, and, at the end, a painting by convicted murderer Arthur Shawcross, known as the Genesee River Killer, who murdered 14 people in his lifetime.
The work takes over the entire building, which is itself a bit of a labyrinth, and each new gallery or hallway or open space is a distinct experience. A person could easily spend all day wandering around and not even take in the half of what is on hand to view. But even just a sip of this strange and beautiful brew is well worth the subway ride to Long Island City.
More work about Superman’s hometown of Kandor
A crazy patchwork of found items, with ears of dried corn on the borders, of course.
I am not a critic, so I won’t try to get all technical with anybody here. But I can say that this is the largest exhibition of Kelley’s work to date, and that the people who have ordained Kelley a high priest of the contemporary art scene have good reason to keep him in that pedestal.
A tribute to John Glenn, complete with tons of broken cups and saucers.
Try to get over there to see the show this weekend, if you haven’t already. They’ve even extended the Saturday hours till 9 pm. And then have lunch or a snack at M.Wells Dinette, the eaterie that serves as the museum cafe. A bit overpriced, perhaps, but really delicious nonetheless. They charge 3 bucks for bread and “salted” butter, which drives me crazy, but that’s another post for another time.
Mike Kelley at PS1
Through Sunday, Feb. 2, 12 to 6 pm.
Extended hours on Saturday, Feb 1, till 9 pm.
22-25 Jackson Ave., LIC
$10 suggested donation
PS: Now that this show is closed, you can get some nice Mike Kelley quality time online at Artsy.net, which has a whole Kelley online universe, complete with links to various works, articles and other exhibits. Well worth checking out.