L-R: Elizabeth Armstrong, photo by Robert Matt; Connie Butler, photo by Mark Hanauer; Glenn Kaino, © Glenn Kaino, photo by Matthew Scott.
L-R: Elizabeth Armstrong, photo by Robert Matt; Connie Butler, photo by Mark Hanauer; Glenn Kaino, © Glenn Kaino, photo by Matthew Scott.

Elizabeth Armstrong, Connie Butler, and Glenn Kaino Join Board of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts

The Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts announced today the appointment of curators Elizabeth Armstrong and Connie Butler and artist Glenn Kaino to its Board of Directors. They join other board members Stephanie Barron, Board Chair, Miwon Kwon, Catherine Opie, Claire Peeps, Edward Rada, Gary Simmons, Pilar Tompkins Rivas, and Joan Weinstein.

“We are thrilled to welcome Liz Armstrong, Connie Butler, and Glenn Kaino, distinguished leaders in their fields, to the board of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts," said Stephanie Barron, Board Chair. “They bring extensive knowledge, experience, and acumen to the Foundation’s board, and will be important voices as we guide the organization through its next chapter, a decade after Mike Kelley’s passing.”

Added Mary Clare Stevens, Executive Director, “The Foundation’s mission to support artists and arts organizations and to steward Mike Kelley’s unique legacy will be greatly advanced by the perspectives of Liz, Connie, and Glenn. We look forward to our work together."

A nationally known curator, writer, and art historian, Elizabeth Armstrong is currently co-curator of the California Biennial, an inaugural exhibition for Orange County Museum of Art’s (OCMA) reopening in October 2022, and curator of Dangerous Women: Visual Activists, 1960–2020 at the Arizona State University Art Museum in Fall 2023. She previously served as Director of the Palm Springs Art Museum (2014–2018), Curator of Contemporary Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2009–2014), and Deputy Director and Chief Curator at OCMA (2000–2008). “I'm pleased to join the Board of Directors of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. Mike Kelley's prescience about the influence of feminist art as well as his ethos of ‘aesthetic disobedience’ were inspirational to a new generation of artists. His maverick spirit lives on in the mission and vision of the Foundation,” said Armstrong.

Chief Curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Connie Butler most recently co-curated the critically acclaimed Witch Hunt with ICA LA. “I could not be more honored to serve on the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts board as I have long admired the breadth of influence and brilliance of his rich body of work. With a focus on direct support to art organizations in the Los Angeles area, the Foundation is doing so much to nurture the work of artists and to sustain our great art community. I look forward to furthering Mike’s legacy and honoring his love for this city and for his artist colleagues past and future,” said Butler. Since 2013, she has organized numerous exhibitions at the Hammer including Mark Bradford: Scorched Earth (2015) and Lari Pittman: Declaration of Independence (2019) and
co-curated Andrea Bowers (2022). From 2006–2013 she was the Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings at MOMA, and from 1996–2006 she was a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

“I'm honored to be joining the board of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, and to be in service of the legacy of an artist from whom I have drawn inspiration since the earliest moments of my career,” said Glenn Kaino. “Mike's endless curiosity, imagination, and courage to express radical ideas in every medium helped shape the way I think about the importance of art and the role of the artist in the world, and I'm excited for his work to continue to have influence for generations to come.” Kaino is known internationally for his activist-minded practice, which encompasses painting, sculpture, installation, performance, monumental public art, theatrical production, and feature film. He was included in the 2021 group exhibitions Black American Portraits at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Stories of Resistance at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. His work was featured in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, New York; Prospect.3, New Orleans in 2014; and the 12th Biennale de Lyon, France in 2013. Kaino represented the U.S. at the 13th Cairo Biennale in 2013 and the Québec City Biennial in 2022.

About the Foundation
Founded in 2007 by artist Mike Kelley, the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts advances the artist’s spirit of critical thinking, risk taking, and provocation in the arts. Led by Executive Director Mary Clare Stevens, the Foundation seeks to further his philanthropic work through grants, such as the Artist Projects Grants to arts organizations and artists for innovative projects that reflect Kelley’s multifaceted artistic practice. The Foundation also preserves the artist’s legacy more broadly and fosters the understanding of his life and creative achievements through educational initiatives including exhibitions, educational events, publications, and the preservation and care of the Foundation’s art collections and archives. In 2021, in response to the pandemic, the Foundation awarded for the first time Organizational Support Grants, which were conceived to address the immediate needs of Los Angeles arts organizations contending with the devastating effects of COVID-19. Totaling $400,000, eighteen small to mid-size Los Angeles organizations were provided grants of unrestricted funding to help them maintain their daily operations.

About the Artist
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.