Lee Kelly: Yucatán Revisited Exhibition Opening

Join us on June 4th for the opening of Yucatán Revisited, a memorial exhibition of recent sculptures and works on paper by renowned artist Lee Kelly (1932 – 2022). Kelly was a major figure in the Pacific Northwest and beyond for more than six decades. He is best known for monumental sculptures featured in public and private collections throughout the country.

The exhibition reflects the influence of Kelly’s travels and focuses on modernist works made during the last year of the artist’s life in 2021 and 2022. The show features his dynamic Cor-Ten steel sculptures, along with intimately sized cast bronze forms and works on paper that evoke imagery inspired by the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico where he visited, hiked and climbed throughout his life.

Lee Kelly was born in McCall, Idaho in 1932, Kelly trained at the Museum Art School in Portland (now the Pacific Northwest College of Art), interrupting his studies to serve in the U.S. Air Force in South Korea in 1952-53. Deeply impressed by David Smith’s Tanktotems, which he saw in New York in the early 1960s, Kelly named the property in Oregon City where he built his home and studio “Leland Iron Works” in homage to Smith. There, for more than six decades, he synthesized modernist aesthetics and ancient architectural forms in welded steel sculptures inspired by his travels throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America. He is recognized in the Northwest for large-scale works in stainless and Cor-Ten steel which remain a central focus at regional institutions such as Reed College, Oregon State University, Catlin Gabel School, Oregon Health and Sciences University, and the University of Oregon. In 2012, one of his most important works, Memory 99, was installed in Portland’s North Park Blocks, at what is now the home of the Pacific Northwest College of Art. In 2010, he was the subject of a major retrospective at the Portland Art Museum, curated by Bruce Guenther and accompanied by a career-spanning monograph. His works are included in the collections of the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Stanford University, Palo Alto, California; New Orleans Art Museum; Seattle Art Museum; University of Houston; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; and the City of Sapporo, Japan among others.