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 Ben Konis  (1924 - 2006)

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Lived/Active: Texas/New Jersey      Known for: portrait, genre, and landscape painting, commercial art

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Ad Code: 4
Ben Konis
from Auction House Records.
Winter Adobe
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum:
Artist's obituary in The Amarillo Globe-News Online
Publication Date: 07/27/06

Ben Konis, 82, of Amarillo died Tuesday, July 25, 2006.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in St. Thomas the Apostle Church with Monsignor Joseph Tash as celebrant, and military rites by DAV Chapter 26.  Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2800 Paramount Blvd.

Ben Konis was born April 28, 1924, in Perth Amboy, N.J., to Mary and Peter Paulinkonis, who were recent immigrants from Lithuania.  Ben was the youngest of five children.  He spoke no English when he started school, but was already adept at drawing.

After high school, Ben served his country as an Army sergeant during World War II in a tank destroyer unit of the European Theater, 9th Armored Division under Gen. George Patton.

Always a horse lover, after his discharge he worked in the Peekskill Mountains of New York, at a dude ranch, so that he could ride and learn more about the cowboy life he had encountered while at boot camp in Camp Hood.

His passion for art eventually took precedence, and he studied for three years, on the GI Bill, at the Catan-Rose Art Institute and then at the Art Students League in New York City.

Konis became a commercial artist and a partner in a small advertising firm.  He stabled his horse, Nugget, in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he could ride along the beach near Coney Island.  He met Jinni Landrum at Madison Square Garden during the RCA National Finals on Sept. 26, 1957.  Two weeks later she asked him to marry her, and he did, on Feb. 1, 1958, in her hometown of Friona.  They made their home in Greenwich Village in New York where their daughter, Kelly, was born.

In 1969, the Konises relocated to Amarillo so that Ben could afford to pursue his career in fine art.  A second daughter, Jade, soon came along to complete the family.

Ben Konis became internationally known through the years from his paintings and art instruction.  He was the first artist to win the American Artist Achievement Award in Pastel Instruction.  His paintings have been awarded Best of Show in numerous national competitions and are widely collected.  As he is recognized as a maestro in both pastel and oil, his work has been featured on the cover of The Artist Magazine and in several other magazines and art books.

He was also the first artist, invited by Aramco to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after Desert Storm, to instruct art in Dharan and Ras Tanura.

The Kon-Artist, as he was affectionately called, instructed art seminars for 37 years in more than 100 locations across the country, as well as in more than a dozen foreign venues and on a cruise ship.  He held annual seminars in Ruidoso, N.M., and in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  His students number in the thousands, many returning year after year, as he encouraged them to attain their own art successes.

Konis was a signature member of the Pastel Society of America and later became an honorary member of the Salmagundi Club in New York.  He was also a member of Amarillo Fine Arts and an honorary member of Lone Star Pastel Society.  His contributions through art gained him a nomination for the Golden Nail Award locally.  He has twice won Best Artist by popular vote in the Amarillo Globe-News Best of Amarillo.  For many years he was active in the Will Rogers Range Riders and the Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society.

A special thank you goes to all his doctors and their excellent staffs and to BSA Hospital, Ware Memorial Living Center and BSA Hospice for their compassionate care and staffs.

His family will always treasure his kind, funny, and delightful joy of living, as he was an inspiration to them, his wide circle of friends and to his extended family.  Ben touched the lives of all who knew him and he will be sincerely missed.  The legacy of his art will live on in the homes of his supporters and collectors.

Survivors include his wife, Jinni of Amarillo; a daughter, Kelly of San Francisco; a daughter, Jade and husband Dr. Charles Pybus, and their children Haley, James, and Jackelyn.

The family suggests memorials be to Lone Star Pastel Society or to Amarillo Fine Arts at Panhandle Art Center, 3701 Plains Blvd., No. 135, Amarillo, TX 79102.

The Konis family will host a celebration of life reception for all guests after the service, in the Grand Ballroom at Sunset Galleries in Sunset Center.  A retrospective tribute of Konis' paintings from the 1960s to the present will be on view.  His collectors and patrons are especially invited to bring their paintings for display also.  This tribute to the artist will continue daily through Aug. 6.

Amarillo Globe-News, July 27, 2006

Submitted by Michael Grauer, Curator, who received the information from Lisa Jackson

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