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 Jack Koonce  (20th century)

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Lived/Active: Idaho      Known for: wildlife in landscape painting

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Ad Code: 4
Jack Koonce
from Auction House Records.
To the Valley Below
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Broschofsky Galleries:
Jack Koonce was raised in the sagebrush hills and craggy mountain peaks of Central Idaho, where he spent a childhood rambling through the vast rugged wilderness that was his backyard.  Fishing, hunting, hiking, backpacking, skiing and sketching all combined to forge a deep and elemental bond with nature, and his  canvases are evidence of that profound connection.

Koonce recalls of his initial trip to the high alpine backcountry: “The first time I made it to high altitude in summer,I was hooked.  Stunted trees and deep, green, grass against snow-white granite.  Flowers everywhere..It was a masterwork.”

Cold, snowy winters worked their magic too.  For back in the day, when the snows fell, Idaho mountain kids took to the slopes and skied.  Long winters spent in the practice of ski racing – a difficult and somewhat obscure discipline – did much to forge Koonce’s character, and painting style.  In his work, he clearly draws upon the fearlessness, self-reliance, perseverance and, maybe especially, sheer awe, which the mountains demand of those who travel there. They’re excellent teachers.

“Skiing is about the mastery of craft as a way to discover beauty… and avoid disaster. That same mastery is required to find truth in the expression of painting,” says Koonce.

A lifetime of exploring the natural world also taught him to trust his instincts, he says, giving him “the courage to launch myself in a direction with utter abandon. It is this confidence in the unknown that I find myself turning to, in my work, time and time again.”

Living today on the Eastern edge of Idaho’s Smoky Mountains, Koonce still finds spiritual and artistic inspiration in his rugged backyard. “Sometimes now I see wildlife, and I’ll paint them where and how they stand, but more appealing to my sensibilities is to compile, from years of observation, the scene, the gestures, the mood..bringing them together into an imaginative whole.  This, I think, makes my approach different from many wildlife artists who use photographs in a more literal manner.  My approach is conceptual in its construction.” It’s an approach to life, and now his life’s work, that has left him regretless. “It offers the endless excitement of perpetual discovery.”

Jack Koonce studied and taught art and biology at the highschool and college level prior to embarking upon a fulltime career as an artist.  He is currently a signature member of the “Society of Animal Artists”, New York, the “Worlwide Nature Artists Group and the “Oil Painters of America”, Chicago. He has received several awards and is currently on a national museum tour representing the Society of Animal Artists.

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