Seven years ago, an abandoned carport at the end of Tipton Way in Highland Park became a community memorial to the artist Mike Kelley, who had his studio down the street and had died by suicide on Jan. 31, 2012.
All through the month of February, 2012, visitors filled the space with farewell messages in Magic Marker, as well as blankets, wax candles, stuffed fabric toys and other handicrafts – the same kinds of thrift-store objects that Kelley had used in his landmark work from 1987: More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and a related assemblage The Wages of Sin.
Mike Kelley’s fame and significance in contemporary art has continued to grow in the years since his death. One of his works, entitled City 000, has recently been chosen for a special exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Westwood that will showcase some 40 artists in the museum’s contemporary collection.
The exhibition comes on the heels of a blockbuster exhibition at the Hammer last year, in which eight of the 32 featured artists were from Northeast L.A.
City 000 is part of series produced by Mr. Kelly from 2009 to 2011 dealing with the city of Kandor, the fictional birthplace of Superman. In the Superman story, Kandor was taken hostage, shrunken and encased in a jar by the evil Brainiac. City 000, made from multicolored resin bottles arranged into a cityscape atop a rocklike foundation, evokes the cherished place that Superman can neither restore nor return to.
The exhibition featuring City 000, entitled “Dirty Protest,” runs through May 19 / Hammer Museum / 10899 Wilshire Blvd. / hammer.ucla.edu / Free
T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times.