Hello, I'm Billy Kheel. I live in Los Angeles and I make art. If you want to ask me about my art, or interview me for your blog/magazine, or commission me, you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The owner of The York in Highland Park is originally from Florida like me, so we decided to do a show that recalls the fish shacks of our youth. All the more absurd that "Billy's Fish Shack" was installed in a neighborhood an hour from the sea and that all of the trophy fish were softly rendered in felt and featured fish such as the Dan Marino Mahi Mahi that never existed.
The show "Increments" at GATE Projects in Glendale is the first time I used felt as a medium in my art. I used felt to make these giant surreal pennants inspired by the Denver vs Oakland rivalry in the National Football League. My experience as a former athlete had gotten me to start thinking about materials associated with sports and sports memorabilia and felt pennants immediately came to mind. Felt was interesting to me as it used in sports memorabilia but is also associated with children's felt boards and traditional crafts.
The part of Los Angeles I live in has some of the most ridiculous and iconic signs on the face of the earth. However, the neighborhood is gentrifying and the businesses that display these signs are disappearing. I undertook to memorialize some of best of these signs in stuffing and felt in a show called "Sunset Stitches" at Trencher in Echo Park. Most of these pieces sold, but there are still two left in the store.
I had a solo show at the Blackbook Gallery in Denver called "Skyhigh". The show opened right after the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl and featured athletes that all had been caught and punished for smoking marijuana, which is legal in Denver. There are still a few pieces available on the gallery's Artsy page.
I was inspired to make this installation "Soft Resistance" after going to the Woman's March in Downtown Los Angeles. The iconography and aesthetics of revolutionary movements inspired me and I wanted people to express this feeling without the resulting violence and jail time. The opening, at the Los Angeles County Store, coincided with the Tax Day March. There are still a few molotovs for sale.
I teamed up with Cofax to create the installation "A Summoning of Dodger Spirits" at their Fairfax Blvd location. I've always been fascinated by the underlying belief systems that are present in both religion and sports. Often these belief systems manifest themselves in specific artistic techniques, such as the felt applique banners of the Catholic Church or the sequined tapestries of Drapos Voudou. I decided to try to use some of these techniques to make art that would affirm the beliefs of Dodger fans and hopefully propel the team to a World Series Championship. A limited amount of originals and prints from the show are available in the shop.
Taco Madness had a pop-up art gallery that featured my felt renditions of the top three taco winners as trophies. I also made some hot sauce molotov cocktails and t-shirts. Habanero hot sauce is ambrosia to me and I am a big fan of L.A.Taco who put on the Madness. A select few of these tacos and t-shirts are available in the shop.
PØST is a subversive project that puts on "Kamikaze" shows every July. Each night in July a different artist has an opening in their space located near downtown Los Angeles. My show was called "Felt Hustler" and was inspired by magazine models from the 1980's, a time of pre-pubescent curiosity for me.
My family has been going down to the Dominican Republic for almost half a century and my brother lives there. Needless to say, I've been there many times and have made quite a bit of artwork while on the island. There was a retrospective of all the work I've done in and about the Dominican Republic at the historic Casa de Teatro in Santo Domingo. The island is a great source of inspiration to me, I feel like mangú runs through my veins.
My buddy Dale Dreiling and I did an art show in Chinatown inspired by two of our favorite things - Tacos & Beer! Los Angeles is the preeminent place in the U.S. in terms of taco activity, as well as a burgeoning craft beer culture. A love for at least one of these two things is something that most everyone can agree on. This show whimsically celebrates their roles in bringing community and cultures together. There are a few of these pieces available in the shop.
I installed a life sized slice of the Los Angeles River at the Los Angeles County Store in Los Feliz. Most Angelenos think of the L.A. River as unappealing, dirty, and dangerous. Transposing the river into felt softened the harsh reality of this waterway. Stuffed and sewn felt imbued a tactile and inviting quality and recalled a children’s felt board, where the objects take on a narrative quality. Amidst drought, restoration planning, and growing diversity along its banks, my installation was a call to contemplate the complexities of the river and an invitation to inform its future. I also installed this piece at River LA's fundraiser and did a L.A. River themed workshop at the Craft and Folk Art Museum.