Posts Tagged ‘illustrator’

Ken would have appreciated my ironic title of this posting on the anniversary of his death, April 25, as he was no fan of the IRS; Uncle Sam was, to him, the ultimate Scrooge.

As I write this, I am sitting in a friend’s apartment in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, where I am conducting research about Ken Rinciari.

Dawn, Ken’s surviving companion, has stories galore and I really enjoy her company in any case. We sit in her garden here in Alkmaar and talk, discussing world politics, recounting stories about Ken (Kenny, as she refers to him), gardening tips for my girlfriend back in Brooklyn, and all sorts of other topics.

Dawn had mentioned a handmade book Ken gave her about their trip to Hoboken (NJ) when I was here last year. It was to Alkmaar I did my first home exchange and it was with Ken, with whom I corresponded, and Dawn who came with him. It was in her old house, not far from here. Now she lives in a condo, also not far from here. Their friend Sonje visited as did Dawn’s son Jonathan.

The Hoboken book was missing last year, which was disappointing to me. But last week when I visited with Dawn, she presented the book for me to look at and it has re-inspired me about my writing about Ken and also gave me many ideas on framing, arc, and all those other writerly devises.

Following are the front and back covers of the “Hoboken book,” and the inside dedication from Ken to Dawn:

Hoboken and Beyond April 2006 Love You Dawn Ken Hoboken

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How I hate April 25th!

I know today new babies will be born, others will celebrate their birthdays, and there will be other good news. April 25th just arrives abruptly every year to remind that Ken died on this day – now four years ago.

Grief is often so very solitary…

I think of Ken so often, and I am researching a book about him.


Among his former colleagues in New York City, I’ve already had correspondence about Ken with iconic designer Milton Glaser and former NYT art director (for 33 years!) Steve Heller. Both told me they didn’t have much to say, except that they were big fans of Ken’s work.

I am looking forward to meeting, in The Netherlands, his friends and colleagues from the several decades he spent in Holland until his death. Here is a little snippet of a note Ken’s friend Ton sent me a few years ago:

Ken Rinciari passed away on Sunday the 25th of April 2010, his cremation was on the 29th at the crematorium of Driehuizen-Westerveld in The Netherlands. Ken was suffering from cancer that he pretty much kept to himself. He would not talk about it but his good friend Dawn Bremner from Alkmaar took great care of him. She deserves a lot of credit for that.


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I’ve been thinking about Ken Rinciari, my friend who died over two years ago and whose life I am researching for my next book. I have felt an emptiness throughout my recent book/birthday celebration. While it’s all been great and people close to me have been uber supportive, my online conversations with Ken and his unwavering support of me is missing. I’d bet he and his longtime companion, Dawn, would have even made a trip from Holland to NYC to attend my book launch/birthday party and celebrate with me!

Thinking about Ken not being here hurts my brain. He was the first person really close to me who died. There have been more since, but his death was a huge blow.

For my research, I’ve been reaching out to his friends in the Netherlands where he lived as an ex-pat for the past 30-odd years, who have been most kind. And, to Ken’s remaining family members, old friends in his hometown of NYC and colleagues who knew him  when he was at Grove Press in its heyday in the 50s/60s along with others who somehow had a connection with him. Here are a few brief excerpts of what people have said about Ken:

From Dawn: “…Ken loved your writings…he adored you too and took every turn in your fortunes to heart.”

From a woman, probably aroundl my age, who knew Ken her whole life: I am so glad you are writing a book about Ken. He was a special person.”

From his cousin: Although Kenny and I were political polar opposites, we shared a deep love for each other. I cant begin to tell you how much I miss his kind soul. That’s not to say we didn’t engage in knock down political debates, but they always ended respectfully. I’m quite sure he was as frustrated with my strong beliefs, as I was with his. My view of life came from 32 years of being a cop, and his stemmed from a lifetime passion of a professional artist, and photographer. That in itself is quite an odd mix!

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My friend in Holland who was considering suicide over cancer, who was then told he was okay, is not so okay now:

i dunno – could it get worse?

tomorrow i am going to get started with chemo which i dread. already am very lousy feeling with pains that don’t go away. try to sleep it off. it is the lightest chemo. i am too weak for the really heavy stuff. doc said i probably have a few months.

old friend wim bart came over. with dawn and myself we started putting my drawings together. still a long way to sort and then go with the idea of printing a porfolio and giving away originals. threw out a lot of crappy ones.

i did have a unique way of working. never did pencil sketches and then inked in. the printed drawing was always spontanious. i used tracing paper to try out the finishing shapes if i were unsure, then eyeballed the final touches.  and, was never asked to submit sketches. they got only finishes. i was more of a writer making up my own metaphors rather than slavishly being literal – which i hated. and got away with it.

great fun. an honest living but a poor one. in that world i am completely forgotten.

NOT FORGOTTEN: Me and my friend Ken when I visited him in Alkmaar, Holland in May 2009 during a 10 hour layover  in Amsterdam on my way to Bologna:

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