Billy Kheel Skyhigh Von Miller

Billy Kheel Gets ‘Skyhigh’

In content and form, Billy Kheel is well at ease in finding harmony in the incongruous. Well, the seemingly incongruous. For his latest exhibition, the artist, whose work has best been described as “Rick Ross meets Betsy Ross,” finds muse in the reconciling of the weed/sports contradiction.

Now a quick show of hands: How many utterly agile athletes do you know—and I mean total beasts in the clutch, true poets on the field—that are certifiable stoners too? A lot, right? Me too. Kheel takes that fascination of the high-performing champ that smokes and still dominates and turns it into a new series of mesmerizing, three-dimensional portraits—in felt. That’s right, successfully skewing every bullshit boundary of “feminine” arts and crafts and “macho” sports culture, each piece in the aptly titled Skyhigh is arranged from the delicate task of hand-cutting and stitching colorfully dyed wool and recycled felt.

Billy Kheel Skyhigh Rasheed Wallace

Using the materials very much so as a painter uses paint, the Los Angeles-based artist gives incredible dimensionality (You see those highlights on Sheeds calves?!) to the likenesses of newly crowned MVP Von Miller, Randy Moss, Hope Solo, Rasheed Wallace, and Tim Lincecum among others. On average, a solid week’s time is dedicated to a single creation.

Kheel first began working with felt about six years ago, by making large-scale felt appliqué sports pennants. As his practice evolved, he ventured beyond the domain of athletics, and in the intervening years, created projects centered on the Los Angeles River and the city’s strip mall culture. But, Skyhigh marks Kheel’s return to sports as subject matter—this time with a greater focus on driving his portraits into the realm of painting.

Billy Kheel Skyhigh Jr Smith

Billy Kheel Skyhigh Ricky Williams

“Felt appliqué is an incredible medium,” says Kheel. “Aesthetically, I love the image of a human propelling themselves through the air. As a former college football and lacrosse player, I remember the slow motion sensation of floating through the air to be one of the most profound experiences in sports. I’ve also always been fascinated by the idea that many amazing, high-performing athletes were smoking marijuana while they were also dominating their competition.”

“Athletes,” Kheel points out, “caught using weed have been subject to suspensions, and even criminal prosecution. I feel that highlighting some of these All-Star and Champion stoners raises interesting questions about sports and culture and our shifting ideas on what constitutes healthy behavior.”

All at an exhibition in Colorado, no less.

Billy Kheel Sky high Randy Moss

Skyhigh begins this Saturday, February 13 at Black Book Gallery in Denver (304 Elati Street), with an opening reception from 6–10 p.m. that is free and open to the public. The show runs through March 12, 2016.

Related Articles

Art
Art

Ravi Zupa Returns to Black Book Gallery With ‘Strike Everywhere’

Art
Art

The Best Joint Roller In The Game’s Spark of Inspiration

Ad

Latest News

Banksy News

Goldie Refers to Banksy as “Rob,” People Freak Out

You do realize how many Robs there are in the world, right?
Music

New Music From Vince Staples, dvsn, Heems and More

The Listening Room (June 23, 2017)
2017 Draft Class Sports

The Major Takeaways from the 2017 NBA Draft

Last night we watched men both younger and way more talented than us become way richer than us. Welp
Sizzla-DJ-Khaled News

The Untold Story Behind DJ Khaled and Sizzla’s “I’m So Grateful”

Khaled and Kalonji go way back
Eric B. & Rakim will reunite to celebrate 30th anniversary of Paid In Full. Music

Eric B. & Rakim Announce First Show Together in Over 20 Years

Finally let the rhythm hit 'em
essex-market-featured Art

‘Market Surplus’ Gives a Building on the L.E.S. One Last Jolt Before Demolition

Mural art show features Faust, Lamour Supreme, ELLE and more
Silicon Valley: The Soundtrack is available now. Music

Stream ‘Silicon Valley: The Soundtrack,’ Featuring Nas, Run the Jewels, Wu-Tang ...

A Mass Appeal and HBO collaboration, streaming now
Jay 305 talks about Suga Free's 'Street Gospel' album. Music

Jay 305 Preaches on Suga Free’s Classic ‘Street Gospel’

Chuuch!
Sebastian Gorka News

Trump’s Top Advisor: There’s Only Radical Muslims and Those Soon To Be Radical

Trump's top advisor doesn't confirm he hates Islam, but does tell us he doesn't like hip hop
vince-staples Music Video

Everything’s Up For Interpretation in Vince Staples’ Video for “Rain Come Down”

...except for his feeling about Sprite
Tyler the Creator suggests he may be dropping a project soon. Music

Is It About to Be Tyler SZN?

"7 DAYS BOY"
chance the rapper apologizes to dr. dre News

Chance The Rapper Apologizes to Dr. Dre For Clowning Aftermath

Chance no longer thinks Aftermath "Can't Do Math"
squidnice, trap by my lonely, video, staten island Music Video

Squidnice Drops Sleek New Video for “Trap By My Lonely”

The Craccen gets nice
eto-portrait Music

PREMIERE: Eto “Ritual” prod. by V Don x Kill

That fly or die block shit
Putin/Trump News

Lyin’ Trump: I Don’t Know About Russia Hacking The Election

Everyone Else: They Did
sonic-hedgehog-daily-op Tech/Games

Twenty Six Years Ago, Sonic the Hedgehog Sped Into Our Lives

Gotta go fast!