Launched in June of last year, the Artist Project Grants seek to further Mike Kelley’s philanthropic work and honour his legacy by supporting innovative projects with visual artists at L.A. non-profit institutions and organisations. The goal is to benefit both visual artists and arts organisations alike and to support compelling and inventive projects in any medium, particularly work that is under-known, or has proven difficult to make or to fund.
The 2016 grant recipients include both established and new organisations, and their projects represent a diverse mix of media and content. The supported works range from a series of new commissions by members of the Echo Park Film Center Co-Op, honouring their unsung efforts at this unique volunteer- driven organisation, to a collaboration with artist Rosten Woo and Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) on how zoning codes disenfranchise Downtown communities.
“Since 1985, we’ve been making art that connects the experience of people living in poverty in the Skid Row community to the social forces that shape their lives, in other words, creating citizen artist witnesses," explained LAPD Founding Artistic Director John Malpede. “With the Kelley Foundation grant we’ll be addressing new threats to the area’s hard won affordable housing, inviting both new and old residents of a quickly gentrifying Downtown to examine, question, and imagine how decisions get made and how our city gets created.”
The Mistake Room will bring Los Angeles-born, Guadalajara-based Eduardo Sarabia back to the city for an innovative survey show that will weave together the artist’s previous projects in a complex narrative video and installation environment. The project’s deeply self-reflective nature will provide Sarabia with a rare and risky opportunity—a chance to explore in-depth the meaning and relevance of his artistic work to date.
Raised in East Los Angeles and now based in Guadalajara, Eduardo Sarabia explores complex moments of cultural contact, using storytelling, mythology, popular culture, music, spirituality, and social conventions as metaphors for broader geopolitical contexts. His “survey” show in September 2017 at The Mistake Room will take the form of a narrative video that will bring together all of the artist’s previous projects and characters in a series of interconnected stories. Sarabia will collaborate with an architect to transform TMR into a series of theatrical vignettes—a Mayan temple, a bar, a jungle in Southern Mexico, and a Border Patrol interrogation room—in which the objects and edited versions of the video will be installed.
“This project will be the boldest endeavor I’ve ever undertaken, both formally and conceptually, bringing together ten years of work and five years of research in a new kind of 'total artwork,’” said Sarabia. “It's not an easy project, and without the fearless support of The Mistake Room and now the generous grant from the Kelley Foundation, I don’t think it would be feasible at all. I'm so grateful and excited."
The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts seeks to further Kelley’s philanthropic work through grants for innovative projects that reflect his multifaceted artistic practice. The Foundation also preserves the artist’s legacy more broadly and advances the understanding of his life and creative achievements. The artist established the non-profit Foundation in 2007.
The work of artist Mike Kelley (1954-2012) embraced performance, installation, drawing, painting, video, sound works and sculpture. Kelley began his career in the late 1970s with solo performances, image/text works, and gallery and site-specific installations. He came to prominence in the 1980s with a series of sculptures composed of common craft materials. The artist’s later work addressed architecture and filmic narratives using the theory of repressed memory syndrome coupled with sustained biographic and pseudo-biographic inquiry into his own aesthetic and social history. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of our time, Kelley produced a body of deeply innovative work in dialogue with American popular culture as well as both modernist and alternative traditions.