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MOCA remembers multi-talented artist Mike Kelley

Veronica Sepulveda
Staff Writer

The Museum of Contemp­orary Art in Los Angeles paid its respect and admiration to one of its most influential artists, Mike Kelley.

On Feb. 18 MOCA opened its newest exhibit “A Tribute to Mike Kelley,” after his death on Feb 1.

Kelley was an artist, critic, curator, art historian and wrote for art and music journals as well.

He was also a teacher at the Art Center in Pasadena where he shared his admiration and knowledge of art.

For the last three decades, Kelley had been an active contributor to MOCA and donated many of his art pieces as well as the works of other known artists.

Currently the museum is home to 34 of his pieces.

The exhibit displays 23 of Kelley’s pieces along with those of his colleagues and fellow artists, including Cody Choi, John Altoon, William Leavett, Douglas Heuble and a few others, which have all been donated to the museum and added to its permanent collection.

“I really like how the museum is paying tribute to Mike Kelley,” Elyse Gonzales, a Santa Barbara resident, said. “Also how they are highlighting the works of his friends and colleagues; it is a great way to show him respect.”

Kelley’s work has a quality that captivates his audience and makes them wonder what was going through his mind while he created his artwork.

When looking at Kelley’s work the message he was trying to relay is not always clear.

Kelley’s work suggests that he wanted his audience to think about the art to find individual interpretations instead of having a set meaning.

“He is a very minimalist thinker,” Alice Munson, International Polytechnic High School senior, said. “He takes what he has and makes something that makes sense to him.”

A piece that seemed to catch a lot of attention was “The Face of Man” (1984).

This piece is a drawing of what looks like a distorted face on a stump-like figure. The lines are jagged and shadowed.

“It can be interpreted as being the disorientation of a man’s face,” Alicia Sepulveda, International Polytechnic High School senior, said. “It gives the audience the perception that this is the constant conflict resonating throughout a human’s mind.”

His pieces are based on the questions of normality and are more cultural and symbolic in expression.

He would often criticize the values of religion, family, sexuality, education, art history, science and philosophy.

“His art is not so pretty and beautiful, it is more realistic to human nature,” Hiromi Takizawa, a Long Beach resident, said. “It is about the human condition.”

The exhibition will be displayed until April 2.

Veronica Sepulveda can be reached at

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