He could build anything
Michael Victor Kokiko, aged fifty-nine, of Brooklyn, New York and Southfield, Massachusetts passed away peacefully on July 13 at his home in Brooklyn after a valiant two year battle with lung cancer, his spirit and will continuing to amuse and inspire family and friends until the very end.
Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and raised in Goldsboro, after high school Michael served in the United States Army. Almost immediately after boot camp, he obtained a security clearance and was stationed in Korea. Returning to the States, then a member of the honor guard, he turned down an offer to attend officer’s school to study art at UNC Chapel Hill. After graduating cum laude with a BFA in painting and sculpture, Michael moved to Brooklyn, New York. While a studio assistant for several NY artists, including Vitto Acconci, he honed his carpentry skills, becoming a master carpenter. For twenty years, he worked as a supervisor for ultra high-end residential contractors in New York City, running multi-million dollar renovations, working with such architects as Peter Pennoyer, Olsen Kundig and Steven Wang.
A craftsman, he loved his work. In addition to being a builder, painter and sculptor, he had been an amateur bicycle racer and continued to ride through the Berkshire County hills that he loved. An adventurous cook, drawn especially to recipes that used every pot and knife in the kitchen, he and his wife enjoyed hosting friends for dinner. A particular fan of folk and outsider art, when his illness prevented him from working, he took up quilting – something he’d watched his grandmother do as a child.
He is survived by his wife, Donnaldson Brown, and their dear son, Michael Carlisle (Lyle) Kokiko; his brothers, Jim and Geoff Kokiko of Goldsboro, North Carolina; his sister Kathryn Lynn Kokiko of Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as numerous nephews and nieces.
Kokiko was a true Original.
I never saw him after we worked together on Castelli Soho but I would occasionally bump into people who knew of him.
His legendary skills and good humor were what people would always relate.
There was no greater builder and craftsman, pure carpenter that I ever met.
I remember in SoHo, late 80’s, he came back on a Monday morning from a trip upstate and he had bought this crazy little block plane that was probably from the 1800s. He had already sharpened the tooth, which had a right angle shape like a bent pinky finger. We were mortising hinges and door latches and he proceeded to take this odd looking two handed plane out and use it like he had been working with it his entire life -made the most perfect mortises I’d ever seen. He handed it off to me and I butchered one tongue latch horribly.
Michael was just that way.
He could do it all.
He had southern zen.
Infectious humor, folksy philosophy of the world that was also full of skepticism and devil may care.
When I read this this morning I didn’t even realize how much I really missed and admired him.For me he was like meeting a young artist who went on to become famous, that you knew had so much talent that it was impossible that they would not be successful at life.
I know he was.
Rest easy Mike Kokiko, I know you are on that porch with a 3 legged dog tossing beer cans at the sun.