Mike Kelley’s ‘Mobile Homestead’ rolls into Los Angeles


With his last major art installation, the late Mike Kelley gave new meaning to taking the show on the road.

Kelley’s “Mobile Homestead,” a public art project based at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, set out on its maiden voyage last week. Destination: Los Angeles.

It will be on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s retrospective “Mike Kelley” at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary through July 28.


“Mobile Homestead” is both a public and private art project. The public sculptural installation is a near-exact replica of Kelley’s childhood home in Westland, a working-class Detroit neighborhood inhabited largely by auto industry workers.

The simple, white clapboard home with blue shutters has multiple rooms, including a community space and art gallery on the ground floor. A subterranean level was intended by the artist to be used for “private rituals,” such as art gatherings and concerts.

The detachable facade of the home, set on a street-legal trailer, is meant to travel from city to city hosting art, educational and social services initiatives.

“Mike Kelley believed art could change lives,” museum director Philippe Vergne said in his opening remarks during the press preview. “One person, one project, one piece of art at a time.”

“Mobile Homestead” arrived in L.A. in time to participate in Saturday’s Walk the Talk parade, organized by the performance art collective Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD), through downtown’s skid row. It will remain parked under the Frank Gehry canopy outside the Geffen Contemporary for the duration of its L.A. visit.

Portraits of skid row activists by LAPD artist Brian Dick now hang outside “Mobile Homestead”; inside, a timeline of skid row’s history as well as brightly colored Walk the Talk honoree portraits by Mr. Brainwash line the trailer’s walls.


In the coming weeks “Mobile Homestead” will host a series of “public service activations,” including a lunch-making workshop led by the Local United Network in Combating Hunger, a Schools on Wheels donation drive, an American Red Cross Blood Services event and an L.A. Human Right to Housing Project/Community Action Network-hosted Rent Control Tenant Meeting.

A full schedule of events is posted online.