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LeDuff: 2 artists from the Detroit area cut from the same cloth

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Tyree Guyton stands in front of Michael Kelley's Mobile Homestead. Tyree Guyton stands in front of Michael Kelley's Mobile Homestead.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Tyree Guyton is Detroit's most famous artist, in Detroit at least.  Fire recently claimed part of his famed Heidelberg Project, an east side neighborhood where Guyton turned abandoned houses into canvas, lost dolls and auto parts into sculpture.

Now Guyton finds himself in an existential spot.  Where to go next?

Maybe there is a clue in Midtown, so I asked him to come to see Michael Kelley's latest and last piece.

Kelley is Detroit's most famous artist, famous everywhere except Detroit it seems.

Kelley grew up in Westland, but made his bones in Los Angeles and eventually the world.  He, too, used dolls and quilts and found objects in his work.  You might say Guyton and Kelley are cut from the same cloth, the same age from the same soil, except Kelley's pieces sell for millions.

Opening Saturday at the MOCAD is Kelley's Mobile Homestead, a permanent, near extinct replica of Kelley's childhood ranch house in Westland, a place he fled in the early seventies.

There are private artist bunkers below, gallery space on the main floor, a garage and a facade that detaches and can be used as a mobile blood bank or a book mobile.  He seemed to be saying do with it what you will.

Kelley will not be at the opening as he took his own life in Los Angeles early last year, but as the museum executives say, Kelley has finally come home.  The house, Kelly wrote, expressed his feelings about suburbia.  "One had to hide his true desire and beliefs behind a facade of social acceptable lies.  The work could become just another ruin in a city full of ruins."

The art world can be a petty and backbiting place.  There are those in the Detroit circle who say Kelley's cold art, his aluminum sided box, is an antiseptic outhouse compared to Guyton's technicolor carnival.  But what does Guyton think?

"I see me," Guyton says.  "Fire consumed my old.  Michael left something new, and I will build anew.  And his will grow old and so will mine.  This is the city in a metaphor.  It is perfect."

Welcome home Mike Kelley.

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