Ken liked to travel, to move. In my favorite photo of him he is on the move.
He would always write me a postcard from his travels, well maybe not always, but mostly. Always is a difficult thing to manage. Two of the images he chose, and I know he chose carefully, as we would talk about how he selected Christmas gifts. He chose gifts for his family and friends with an eye for a good price and a consideration based on his knowledge of that person. It was always knowledge based in the deep humanity of his perceptions. Ken was perceptive and very kind. When Maura wrote back to me, she mentioned Ken’s “generosity”. I liked her writing that as it helped begin my remembering. Ken had a great generosity of spirit!
Ken and I also shared our love of the life of the mind, of deep intellectual engagement, centering mostly around image making and meanings inherent in their making and viewing. We were both artists choosing teaching - as service was important to us both.
Two of Ken’s postcard images are part of my visual life here in my Bronx apartment. I went to them once I learned of Ken’s death. One from his California trip, the date on the postmark indecipherable. Yet, as I write I remember he also visited his sister and her family while there. I would hear all about his visit, but now so many years later no details remain. Knowing the ways of memory, I am sensing some returning as I concentrate on remembering Ken and how close we were. The postcard tells me he was at Esalen with his friend Robert. He wrote they had had massages, soaked in hot tubs and spent time “just catching up.” I don’t know Robert, but I did know Ken. He was my good friend.
He chose an image of a statue, “Garden Goddess” for my note. He had been in three of my own gardens. On my 60th birthday he came to celebrate with me and women friends in my Bronx garden. He photographed me holding the figure from a dream that I would be burning. The postcard terracotta goddess from Esalen is full breasted, holding her arms up to the world, face uplifted. She is being showered by an invisible sprinkler. It looks like she has California yellow poppies at her feet, along with cabbage.
Ken liked to cook, liking to eat well and being creative. He allowed himself his love of cheese as an indulgence. Ken was a family man, and he invited Gabriella and me into his family. He became part of ours, small though it was. For some years he would host a day-after-Thanksgiving feast for his family and invite Gabriella and me to it. I came across the dish I brought one year in a cookbook this week.
I found the pictures Ken took at Gabriella’s high school graduation in the Great Hall at Cooper Union. I took one with his camera of him and Gabriella and Abe. Ken had been at the surprise baby shower Sarah gave me. He may have been the one to take the photograph of the moment when I discovered everyone on the back deck, thinking I was only visiting my sister-in-law. Always such warm feelings when I think of Ken and the times we shared.
The other postcard I have in a frame. It was sent from Barcelona. He was with a friend there too. Ken had many friends. Friends share things. Ken and I shared seeing as one ability, among others. We mirrored each other in many ways, always positive. A genderless angel with many eyes beyond the two in her/his head and six wings. (See PDF for full text and photos) I found the seraphim online
Serafin del abside central de Santa Maria dAneu.
A Seraphim is a type of celestial being originating in Ancient Judaism. They play a role in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the 1st centur
y Dionysius the Areopagite wrote of seraphims in his Celestial Hierarchy… “the exuberance of their intense, perpetual, tireless activity kindling those below and firing them with their own heat, their unquenchable, changeless, radiant and enlightening power, dispelling and destroying the shadows of darkness.”
I like to think about Ken being a seraph firing us to use our own heat, our unquenchable, changeless, radiant and enlightening power to dispel and destroy the shadows of darkness that envelope us and this world, our Earth.
Susan Landgraf, January 31,2021