Born in Twin Falls Idaho, his family immediately moved to Monte Vista, Colorado where he lived until age 12. Many of the idyllic memories of this childhood inform his imagination and enter into his work. Moving from a very small farming and ranching community, he was plunged into the crazed consumer culture of Southern California. He lived in La Mesa, California and watched as the entire face of America changed with Vietnam, rampant divorce, and then the summer of love. He attended Grossmont College and immersed himself in art. Seeking to escape the drug crazed beach culture, he set out for northern California.
Kelly attended Cal State University at Hayward where he studied with Mel Ramos, Raymond Saunders, Harold Schlotzhauer, Misch Kohn, Kenji Nanao and Clayton Bailey. He later attended U.C.Davis for graduate school and studied with Robert Arneson, Wayne Thiebaud, Manuel Neri, Roy DeForest, William Wiley and David Gilhooly. After graduate school he spent time living at both DeForest and Arneson’s houses. During this time he had his first teaching job at American River College in Sacramento.
Kelly is a Professor of Art at Santa Clara University where he has taught for the past 32 years. He served as Chair of the Department for more than ten years and helped make the Department one of the best departments amongst liberal arts universities of it’s size. He has shown extensively in the area and has also had opportunities to exhibit in Korea, Japan, Italy and Germany over the past 20 years. His work can be found in many private collections and in public collections including the Microsoft Collection, the De Saisset Museum, the Triton Museum, Villa Heiss Museum, the Skowhegan School Collection, and the Nelson Collection at U.C.Davis.
Kelly was selected as the 2012 Artist Laureate by the Silicon Valley Arts Council. His work was recognized in the “On the Wall” category. Kelly was also part of the Davis Mural Team in 2012 and created a large mural on the main Post Office in Davis.
He is the currently owner and sole proprietor of YE$ Industries, which is a multi-national art making enterprise, which provides luxury items for those who can afford them. Although the company has never made an actual sell they are dedicated to their company plan of making millions and spending it wisely.