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Friday, October 5, 2012


  I could not have done it better.  Ellie Brecher's Miami Herald obituary for artist Leonard King, said it all.
Readers learned about the five decades he spent sailing, inventing, and making friends in Coconut Grove.  
  He made a lot of art and outstanding public events as well ( his blowgun competitions, brass ring toss, and the infamous toy robot races were the things of legend).  In the early 80's he waved from a convertible in the King Mango Strut alongside the parade's grand marshal, "Shep".  The stuffed collie was with him for decades. 
  When I met Lenny in the 70's he was living on a houseboat named "Ox".  He said it was the shortest name he could think of adding, "Easy to paint on the transom". 
  He had dreaded the years he had spent making art for department stores.  When he hit his 50's he began to make art for himself.   His buoyant optimism kept him working while waiting for the world to discover his amazing creations.   I remember the long plastic poles waving in the wind and later, the rotating fun house mirrors reflecting strips of colored paper.  
  Even in his 80's (he died just weeks short of his 85th birthday) Lennie was still working like an ox.  Three years ago he opened a gallery on Grand Avenue filled with his colorful, kinetic sculptures.  Like those toy robot clowns he raced, Leonard would bump against an obstacle, fight it a bit, then move off in a new direction.   
  If the "optic-kinetic reflections" of torn paper weren't selling, maybe weird mirrored distortions of a nude female  would.  When the gallery on Grand didn't work out, he moved it into cyber-space.  Like his sculptures, always moving.
    Lenny loved hanging out in Grove bars and he'd have loved attending yesterday's memorial service at Scotty's Landing.  A hundred and fifty of his friends gathered by the bay to drink beer in his memory.
One drove up in a blue van with a fluorescent red shark mounted on the roof.  Leonard would have loved it.
  When I saw him last a month ago, Lenny was drinking a beer at The Taurus.  He told me life was good and that he'd be joined any minute by his girlfriend, Mary.
    All Grove guys should be so lucky, spending their golden years surrounded by friends next to Biscayne Bay.   Last Friday they say he went to sleep for the last time.  Maybe, when he woke up Shep was there waiting for him with tail wagging.

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