Ron Kowalke

Ron Kowalke was born November 8th, 1936 in Chicago. He attended Chicago Vocational High School on the south side of the city and after graduation in 1954, enrolled as a B.F.A. candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago academic program. He accepted an art scholarship from Rockford College in 1956, graduated in 1959 and went on for an M.F.A. degree in 1960 from Cranbrook Academy in Michigan.

His teaching career began as an art instructor at Northern Illinois University and shifted in 1960 to the Swain School of Design located in New Bedford, Massachusetts. In 1969, he accepted a full time teaching position in the Art Department of the University of Hawaii. He is a full professor in the painting and drawing program and teaches courses ranging from beginning drawing to graduate painting.

His work in included in numerous permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Boston Public Library, The Library of Congress, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu,and the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

He has participated in over one hundred national and international exhibitions and has accepted numerous invited teaching positions including the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, the Academy of Fine Art in Warsaw, Poland, the University of
Washington in Seattle, and the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia.

Recent acquisitions of Ron’s work (November 2010) include the Yale University Art Museum and the Bard College Hessel Museum. The painting ‘Laser Buddha’ (image 1) is being prepared for permanent exhibit in the Frank Gehry designed “The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts” at Bard College.

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In considering the nature of creativity, I have found a place in my nature that constantly questions, explores, invents, builds, destroys and rebuilds upon those processes of experimentation, technical experience and daring. I dance and play with images and trust the creative process.
In the doing, in the leaping into the unknown, into the abyss of birthing soil, wet with the juice of danger, knowing further that the journey is ripe with twists , turns, detours, trickery, illusion, jokes, threats, brings both anger and joy. I trust my process. I am fearless in the studio.
It is an arena for struggle, flight, brain bending concepts, visual games and attitude. Opinions galore.
A political stance, an outrage, a hope for redemption, a plea for justice, coupling the dark and the light, walking a precarious line of half truths and blasphemy.
Holding on to a vision of beauty in the shadows, and healing through the pain.
The joy of working, questioning, puzzling, manipulating shapes, colors and mastering the medium is the key to be being bent in the heat while splashing the images with acid, honey, mud, gems and ancient healing oils.

My mind travels in a war between heaven and earth with my hands and heart trembling with excitement. I try again, repeat, read, watch, flounder in the labyrinth of a secret voice and honor code that is braced with knowing that personal freedom is that potion that brings strength, stamina, courage, vision and a true calling to service as an artist.

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