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Museum of Fine Arts, ...
Jennifer Steinkamp: Mike Kelley Projection...

October 19 – 26, 2014

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Albright-Knox Gallery
Jennifer Steinkamp

March 14 – June 29, 2008

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Jennifer Steinkamp

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The Houston Chronicle


The Houston Chronicle
June 21, 2012

Visitors stop in tracks to watch 'tree' at MFAH
By: Molly Glentzer

A luminous video installation welcoming visitors to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston this summer is casting a hypnotic spell.

Jennifer Steinkamp's "Mike Kelley" features a beautifully shaped tree that puts on a show of digitally animated, seasonal change as its branches dance in a wind.

The tree looks both real and unreal, a seductive illusion in black and white with pink flowers that turn to green, then gold leaves before the branches go bare and the cycle repeats.

The installation consumes more than half of the 30-foot-long back wall of Cullinan Hall. The only other objects in this pop-up park of terrazzo floors and white walls are black benches that invite viewers to linger.

"I've never seen more people just stop, stand and stare," curator Alison de Lima Greene said.

"Mike Kelley" was given to the museum last winter by Isabel Brown Wilson and the Brown Foundation Inc.

De Lima Greene hoped to show Wilson the installation this summer, knowing the much-loved patron would appreciate it as a follow-up to a show of paintings by Jules Olitski, one of the pioneers of the light and space movement that influenced Steinkamp.

"Unfortunately, that didn't happen," the curator said. Wilson died in March after a brief illness. She was 80.

"She encountered Steinkamp's work last year in Kansas City, where she was looking at the work of Steven Holl, the architect who's designing our new building," de Lima Greene said. "She was always so good about looking ahead to the future. … She thought this kind of artwork would help young people appreciate the museum, immediately engaging them. But the second we put it up, people of all ages were captivated."

First shown at UCLA in 2007, "Mike Kelley" also was exhibited at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. The title is a tribute to one of Steinkamp's mentors, a post-conceptual artist and former professor at California Institute of the Arts.

Kelley died suddenly in January. So the installation seems a fitting memorial to him as well as Wilson.

"This would not have happened without Mrs. Wilson's leadership," de Lima Greene said. "She never felt art was elitist, whether it was antiquities, modern art or cutting-edge contemporary. She always urged us to have art that reached out to people in the very best way."