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These two Michigan artists had “parallel” careers. Now they have side-by-side exhibits.



Two iconic Michigan artists are in the spotlight, thanks to an important exhibition at the Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University.


The works of Jim Shaw and the late Mike Kelley are being displayed in an exhibition at the MSU Broad called "Michigan Stories: Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw." It is running through February 25th.


Steven Bridges and Carla Acevedo-Yates, Michigan State University Broad Museum curators, joined Stateside to discuss the exhibits.


Listen above for the full conversation, or catch highlights below.


On Shaw and Kelley's relationship


"They were absolutely friends — lifelong friends," Bridges said. "They met, as Carla mentioned, at the University of Michigan as undergrads, and really their kind of trajectories as artists very much kind of ran parallel to each other: moving to California at the same time, attending graduate school together at the same time, and remaining in Los Angeles as collaborators, confidantes, friends for the lifespan of Mike Kelley, and still to this day I know Jim is quite fond and affectionate of Mike."


On the artists' Michigan roots


"What is interesting is that for all effects and purposes, they are considered by the art world as Los Angeles artists, and part of what we're talking about in this exhibition is really reclaiming their Michigan roots, and as to how their Midwestern upbringing and education influenced their practice, not only while they were in Michigan but throughout their careers while they were also in Los Angeles," Acevedo-Yates said.


On the personal significance of this exhibition


"I think it was deeply meaningful [for Jim Shaw], to be honest, not only to bring his work back to his native state, but also to be put in context with Mike," Bridges said. "For them to share the stage together I think was really meaningful. And you can see it too. Jim still has a lot of family in Midland and elsewhere around the state and people really came out to support him, and, as Carla mentioned, he's shown all over the country, all over the world, but never really in his home state. So I think having that opportunity to share upwards of 30, 35 years of his life's work with the people closest to him in such an important venue at such an important occasion, I think, again, was really quite meaningful to him." 


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