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Irving Kellman: TRACES' BUS Exhibit Guide

Irving Kellman was born in Minneapolis/MNon 20 December 1946 at St. Marys Hospital, the only hospital in Minneapolis that would allow Jewish doctors to do the work they had trained for. His parents were both born in Russia at the turn of the century and came to the United States as young children, his mother to Chicago, his father to Minneapolis. They met in Minneapolis in 1937 and married in 1938.

Irving graduated from North High in Minneapolis in 1964 and began traveling the country soon after. New York City in the fall of 1964, and Washington DC in the spring of 1965 for the first anti-Viet Nam war rally held in the nation's capital. In the summer of 1965 he braved his way to Mississippi, Louisianna and Alabama to do civil rights work, and then to NYC, DC, Chicago and San Francisco in late '65 and early '66 doing anti-war orgainizing and protests. He stayed and lived in San Francisco for the hippie era and summer of love in '66-67. In 1968 he moved to Los Angeles and got a job managing the Cinemateque 16 Theater in Hollywood, the foremost "underground film" theater in the country, showing avant garde and experimental films by Robert Downy Sr., Stan Brachage, and the early works of Andy Warhol, among others.

He came back to Minneapolis in 1970 and went to the U of M for two years studying humanities and philosophy; he left for Canada and the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia in '73, came back in '74 and got a job as a deckhand and first mate on tow boats pushing barges on the inland rivers of the mid-continent. For the next eight years he lived nowhere and he lived everywhere, working and living on the tow boats eight months of the year, traveling all over the rest of the U.S. the other four.

In 1982 he married an artist who painted in the sumi-e style of Japan, and opened an art and handmade crafts gallery in Wayzata/MN. "The marriage and the gallery both went belly up in 1991" he notes, and he again began drifting around the U.S., visiting old friends, making new ones, and working a myriad of odd jobs. In 1995 he began delivering pizzas for a pizzaria in an upscale suburb of Minneapolis and enjoyed life for 11 years before growing bored, when he once again began a quest for something new and different to do with his life. Along came Michael Luick-Thrams, a TRACES ad for a "BUS driver" on Craigs List and a new adventure in traveling the backroads of the American Heartland.

Driving the BUS-eums the past two years has been one of the most challenging and gratifying jobs he has ever had, Irving says. He has found it challenging, keeping a 40-foot-long bus going straight and being on time while navigating the winding and narrow paths of the back roads that comprise the heart of Mid-America; gratifying in meeting the wonderful and colorful people who populate those back roads.