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Richard Isen
Jan 16, 2021
In Stories
Back in the late 1980s, Ken would visit frequently at our Bleecker Street loft mostly because it was just a few blocks from where he was teaching at NYU and lots of time he'd come in between classes and usually he'd just take a nap (he was champion napper) and go back to teach another Photoshop class. But also, he was on top of all the coolest art in Soho just a few blocks south of where I lived and I was always asking him to take me to see the latest and greatest. My strongest memory is one day we went to a Soho gallery where there were taxidermed turkeys with broken necks and hanging by their necks from the ceiling. Each turkey was dressed in traditional costumes from around the world- a Spanish mantilla, a Hindu sari and whatnot. I was astounded when Ken told the price of each turkey - $30,000! Another favorite was a room installation at Exit Art that was lined with bookshelves with paperbacks. There was long wooden table in the middle with a few toasters on it and more books scattered around. A lot of people were in there looking delighted and perplexed but Ken knew what to do and took one of the books, put in the toaster and laughed while the smoke rose up into the air as an old paperback burned up. Another installation I remember was in the early 90s and everyone was making art about AIDS including "Our Lady Of The Condoms" -a cheap statue of the Virgin Mary with condoms as offerings at her feet and the camouflage family that was occupying an area of the gallery in a makeshift apartment where everything was covered with grey and brown camouflage splatters. The family including two kids watched TV, ate a lot of snacks and wandered around oblivious to the audience watching. My recent visits to NY have Ken taking me to way west Chelsea where apparently Soho has been relegated. I will sorely miss my jaunts into the world of post-post-post modern art that Ken seemed to know so much about. To quote Ken: "I'll show you some art that will fuck you up for life!"
Richard Isen

Richard Isen

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