Skarstedt Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition Memory Ware Flats by Mike Kelley. In this body of work, started in 2000 and continued through 2003, Kelley references a Canadian folk art called “memory ware.” This art practice is created by using common household objects such as bottles, picture frames, ashtrays and any variety of recycled trinkets and plastering them with sentimental keepsakes: buttons, beads, charms and pendants. The artworks in this exhibition are the pieces Kelley refers to as “paintings,” frames filled with tile grout and decorated using a non-compositional approach of material dispersion. While the works were not pre-meditated, there are recognizable systems in place; works were made entirely out of similar sized buttons; the so called “wild style” using garish gumball machine toys; a collection of colorful and flowing string beads.
Kelley’s concentration for this body of work grew from other projects such as Educational Complex (1995), Frame and Frame (1999), and most specifically Categorical Imperative (1999), in which a large installation was created from twenty years worth of unused art material. In the Memory Ware series he was particularly interested in the re-examination and re-use of materials and art practices rather than the sentimentality of the actual tchotchkes employed to make the works. Kelley once stated, “I playfully give new ‘life’ to unused studio material and discarded formal and thematic con-siderations in a manner similar to memory ware’s revitalization of cast-off objects.”
Mike Kelley was born in 1954 in Detroit and lives and works in Los Angeles. He attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1976, B.F.A.; California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, 1978, M.F.A. He has received numerous art awards and grants, most notably: Wolfgang Hahn Prize, 2006; The California Institute of the Arts Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2000; National Endowment for the Arts Museum Program Exhibition Grant, 1990. He was also honored with a traveling retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (1994); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (1995); and more recent exhibitions at the Louvre, Paris, France (2006); Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, England (2004); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (2000).