|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
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.
Amarillo Globe-News, July 27, 2006
Submitted by Michael Grauer, Curator, who received the information from Lisa Jackson
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