If you’re enjoying the attention Los Angeles and later Taos-based ‘Ken Price week’ on The Modern Art Notes Podcast, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and at the Museum of Modern Art, then you’ll probably enjoy The MAN Podcast’s episode with Price’s close friend Larry Bell.
LACMA held a memorial service for Price, who died in February at age 77, just before the opening of the exhibition. For a brochure that the museum printed for the service — which was attended by over 600 people and which was standing-room only — Bell contributed this memory of Price:
“I ﬁrst met Ken around 1958. I was a student of Robert Irwin at Chouinard. Bob was a friend of Kenny’s and introduced me to him at Barney’s Beanery, where they used to go. Coincidentally, I had a job at a little coffee house on Sunset very near, and I would go to Barney’s after work. I met a lot of artists there — from [John] Altoon to [Ed] Kienholz. I got to know Billy Al Bengston, and Kenny was his closest pal; they shared a studio together the next year in Ocean Park. I took a studio the next street south, and Altoon moved in next door.
Ken had a studio in a small strip of stores on Robertson. One night burglars pried open Kenny’s back door and entered with plans to punch a hole in the wall that adjoined an appliance store. They chose an area where Ken kept his greenware to dry. When Ken discovered the destroyed wall, he called me and I was right there. Ken was picking up demolished plaster and wood when I came in, and I was shocked by the scope of the damage to the room. I asked how much work he lost. He pointed to the other side of the room, “Nothing! Nothing was damaged. They moved everything; the only thing they took from my studio was that photo you gave me.” These were pretty sensitive burglars.
Ken was probably the most unique sculptor of the times. From my perspective, he was a giant in my life and the personiﬁcation of a serious artist with an incredible sense of humor. Ken moved to New Mexico around 1970, and I followed him in 1972.
I moved to New Mexico because he moved there. I ended up in the house that he had originally bought, and I lived there for thirty years. When we were younger, we hung pretty close together with a few other bros. When Ken’s family grew, I tried not to be in his face, although I know he loved the company of his pals. Knowing that Ken was at work was all I needed to nourish my strength in the studio.
Kenny’s awesome skill and totally ‘off the wall’ sense of humor will live with me all my days, and I feel totally blessed to have known him.”
Bell was my guest on Episode No. 12 of The MAN Podcast, when he told great stories about Irwin and the development of the 1960s art scene in Los Angeles. It’s a fun, entertaining show. Don’t miss it!