Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Own Kendas

Not being a professional photographer, I took several of my small Kendas outside for decent lighting:

Karl gave me the first one perhaps forty years ago.  Anne gave me the other two, from his Late Period, several years ago.  They are all acrylic on canvas and mounted on stretchers.

This next one, a full size painting, acrylic on Masonite, was also given to me about forty years ago.  One or the other of the two that Karl gave me was for my birthday, one year, I think, but no longer recall for certain.  I took this photograph at a slight angle to avoid glare from my camera's flash.  It's the one I entitled "Distorted Reflections of Souls."
You really must download these photographs of Karl's paintings and enlarge them to see all the details.

Just a Few More Paintings

I only have a few more of Karl's works on my computer, which  I'll Post here, now.  I must check the CD that I have of his works to see if I've got any more to Post for you.  If not, these are almost the last that I can show.  This first one is entitled "The War's All Over."  I do not know if Karl was referring to the end of the Viet Nam War or war in general.  Perhaps he was foretelling the end of the Viet Nam War, looking forward to it.

The following painting was entitled "Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came."  Granted, not original, but Karl somehow equated the sayiing with this painting.  This was at the height of the Viet Nam War, of course.

I have only this last one on my computer.  I've only just now taken a close look at it, enlarged, and I might be able to identify it as a transitional work between his Middle and Late Periods.  I say this because I can see that it contains elements from both periods in it.  [One must keep in mind that these "periods" are of my own devise, my own way of distinguishing between several periods of his life as well as his artwork.]

One can see faces, much like his Middle Period, peering out from behind flowers, much like his Late Period.  His Late Period consists of, among other things, colorful flower arrangements and other still lifes, ships and sea-scapes and wonderful city-scapes; perhaps more themes of which I am unaware at this time.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Karl's Domicile

When I was home from college (in Melbourne, FL), I spent many evenings at Karl's, along with a very diverse group of people, including, sometimes, Karl's future wife.  There were visitors from NYC, ministers, other artists, just friends in general.  We spoke a great deal on philosophy, religion(s), politics, the use of mind altering drugs and many other topics of the day.  (This was in my neo-sophisticated period when I actually enjoyed these kinds of discussions.)  The Viet Nam war was in full swing at the time and was another frequent topic of discussion.

Smoking and Joking.

When it was a smaller group or perhaps just Karl and myself, we'd often put on The Doors or Cream and other music and attempt to interpret the songs' meanings.  The Doors was Karl's favorite group.

As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't much for taking photographs, back then, but I recently took a few photos of Karl's house in North Miami Beach:

The front doesn't look much different from thirty years ago, but I'll wager the rear is vastly different.  He had a concrete mountain filling almost the entire back yard.  It had plants growing around, some palm trees more or less behind it and had a waterfall and flowing water when it was operable.  It had colored spotlights strategically located for evening viewing.

When I was visiting, I was usually seated directly opposite what I believe was Karl's favorite painting.  Even back then, he placed upon it a price tag of $2,000, but let's face it, he had no intention of selling it; it was in his living room, not his gallery.

The painting, as I recall, was entitled "The King is Dead" and it basically consisted of a chess set in which the King was lying on its side.  I always equated it with "God is Dead."  It was a large painting and very colorful.  Karl's widow held onto it.  I'll try to get a photograph of it and maybe I can get photos of some of his other works that Anne kept, as well.

I wish I could post some photos of Karl's gallery, apparently considered the largest privately owned artist's gallery in the East at that time.  However, the building it was in was razed many years ago.


I'm not certain how many photos of Karl's works I have left in my computer.  I'm trying to spread them out a bit.  I discovered that several of the photos are duplicates, so I have fewer than I thought.

The first three of these are a bit earthy-toned and one must enlarge the photos in order to see the details.  Once that is done, one has the task of interpreting what one is viewing.  I can't help you there.  That's a very individual thing.

I somehow deleted the majority of Karl's paintings from my computer.  Fortunately, the entire batch is on a CD, so I can upload them again.  Since I have no way of getting duplicates of these photos, I'd better back them up even more.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Karl's Biography - Long Version

Holy Cow, it took me this long to realize that I started out this Blog for Karl with a short version of his biography.  Here is the proper, long version:

Karl Joseph Kenda (22 August 1923 - 8 May 1980) was born of  Mattaus (b. 1887) and Agnes Majestic  (26 April 1883 – 8 August 1973 Miami, FL) Kenda, Austrian immigrants, married circa 1915.  Their address at the time was 848 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.

Karl’s siblings included Albert A. (12 August 1916 – 15 April 1988 Miami, FL), Edward A. (26 August 1928 – June 1978)  and one other (name unknown) who died in infancy before Karl was born.

Karl was admitted to the Catholic College of the Immaculate Conception, Preparatory
Seminary, at Washington and Atlantic Avenues in Brooklyn on 13 September 1937 and was
Discharged upon his decision – made during Christmas Mass - to leave the seminary on
24 March 1941.
From 1941 to 1943, Karl was a Sexton for St. Malachy’s Church in Brooklyn, his home address listed as 82 New Jersey Avenue, Brooklyn. 

He enlisted in the military on 30 March 1943 in NYC "for the duration of the war." His enlistment records state that he was single with dependents, was 66" in height and weighed 120 pounds.  He was trained as a Surgical Technician, was based in California for the duration of his service, earned the WWII Victory, American Campaign and Good Conduct Medals, and was separated from the service on 12 April 1946.

Karl moved to Miami, Florida, about 1954 and had been dabbling in his first love, painting, as far back as his military years, although his earliest known surviving works only date back to circa 1963.
During his most original, creative period, from 1967 to 1973, Karl had his own gallery at 285 NE 79th Street in Miami and lived in North Miami Beach, FL.  During this middle period, which could be called his Surrealistic, Psychedelic or maybe even Cosmic Period, he created many dozens of paintings on Masonite and canvas using acrylics applied with brush and palette knife.

Many of his middle period, titled paintings - many political in nature -  reflected world perils of the times and still resonate with current days events: "Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came," "The War's All Over" and "Lonely Is The Man Without Love" to name a few.

Depending on who is viewing them, his works might be described as psychedelic, spiritual or surrealistic, but all were colorful, unique and thought-provoking.

On 5 May 1974, he married Ann Marie Shaughness in Dade County, Florida.
Although he loathed the idea and resisted it for years, financial concerns forced Karl into mass producing hundreds of “commercial” works from about 1973 to 1978.  While not as unique as his more creative works, they are nevertheless beautiful and well executed.
Karl was well known in South Florida back then, but most of his works -  both his Surrealistic, as well as Commercial Periods -  are now in private hands and have not been viewed by the public for nearly three decades

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Art Showings

Karl packed up a number of his paintings and attended many local art shows, indoors and outdoors.  I accompanied him on a few of the latter when I was in between quarters at college.  Two that I recall were in downtown Dania on U.S. 1 and another at Coral Castle in South Miami.  Being the late sixties and early seventies, I cannot recall, offhand, any of the others.  Karl had his own Gallery, of course, on NW 79th Street and west of Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, but his works were shown in other venues, as well:

His one-time manager took some of Karl's paintings on the road, so to speak, as written up in this 14 July 1972 article in the Miami News.


"Art is Not Dead" a booklet written by Karl and which he copyrighted in 1970.  He refers to it as a primer for those who claim to know nothing about art except, perhaps, what they feel.  Karl takes it from there...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Few More of Karl's Works

Karl never duplicated paintings, but, if he liked the theme,  he would sometimes stay on that vein for several paintings; I do not know how many.   Were I to show you several along a similar line, you would perhaps experience an entirely different feel for each one.

That is exactly how I chose the painting which Karl gave to me in 1970.  Its most obvious interpretation is that of cliffs with faces that are reflected in water (?) below, but the reflections are not exact.  My lay interpretation of the one I chose was "Distorted Reflection of Souls."  I do not know if he named the rest of that line as a group or individually and I certainly do not know if he used my poor interpretation - or a variation thereof -  as a title of either sort.   I do not even know if he titled all of his paintings.  That's something I should ask his widow, if she even knows, herself.

If you've read my biography on Karl, you would know that he studied for the priesthood for a time, but did not continue.  He considered his works spiritual in nature and it's very easy to see that in many of his paintings.

You can easily imagine the face of Madonna or envision Madonna with child in some paintings.  Perhaps you will interpret other faces or figures as souls being transported who knows where.  No one knows what was in Karl's mind as he painted any of his works.

Sorry, that's about the best I can contribute.  You're welcome to enlarge the photographs, study them and offer your own interpretations, here.  Keep in mind, however, that your interpretations are from your own minds, your own imaginations, not Karl's. 

My layman's understanding of art is that each person sees a piece differently and that is the point, that each person views it and interprets it to his/her own satisfaction and benefit.

I will later Post a booklet that Karl copyrighted in 1970, entitled "Art is Not Dead," in which he explains his feelings about art and its effects on the individual.   He called it a primer for those who claim they know nothing about art.

I will do my best to tell you about Karl, but the art and his writings will do a much better job of it.