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Sneak Previews of Forthcoming Books of Special Interest to Southern Californians : Wish You Were Here

March 13, 1988|KENNETH S. BRECHER

'There were two doors to Peter Shire's studio at 1930 Echo Park Ave.; one was bright red and the other green and black.'

The following is from "Too Sad to Sing: A Memoir With Postcards," by Kenneth S. Brecher, to be published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in May. WHEN I MEET someone who intrigues me and who might become a friend, I always send that person a postcard right away. I choose the card very carefully, and it is usually a response to something that has been said during our first conversation or to a perception I have about the person. I can tell from the response to the card whether or not a friendship is lurking.

This happened with the artist Peter Shire. I saw his pottery and found it so original and witty that I wanted very much to meet him and, if possible, watch him work. I went to meet him at his studio in Echo Park. There were two doors at 1930 Echo Park Ave.; one was bright red and the other green and black. The building was gray with blue-and-yellow details, and Shire himself was wearing pink Japanese trousers with many zippered pockets and a black-and-yellow-striped Italian football jersey.

We began to talk, and I complimented him on being one of the few Americans asked to design for the prestigious Milanese design group, Memphis. Shire said that he was in accord with the group's founder, Ettore Sottsass, in the belief that designers are not simply designing products but structuring the possibilities of life.

Afterward, we began to exchange postcards. I sent him cards from the historic ceramic collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He replied on cards made from woodcut portraits of himself done by his carpenter father.

To me this is what friendship is about: observing the world together, retrieving the comfortable physical intimacy that is often left behind in childhood.

Copyright 1988 by Kenneth S. Brecher. Reprinted with permission.

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