Ron Kowalke was born on November 8, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois. After graduation from Chicago Vocational High School, he spent two years at the School of the Art Institute and the University of Chicago. Following his graduation from Rockford College with a B.F.A. in 1959, he studied painting and sculpture at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan where he received an M.F.A. in 1960.
In the 60s, Ron taught art at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, and at the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Massachusetts. In 1969, he joined the art faculty at the University of Hawaii where he was a professor in the Painting and Drawing Program.
Ron Kowalke’s work is included in permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Boston Public Library, the Library of Congress, the Honolulu Academy of Art, the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, and the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. His career includes participation in more than one hundred solo and group shows. Kowalke exhibits in the United States and in Europe, including Germany, France and Poland.
Ron Kowalke lives in Kailua on the island of Oahu. He is Professor Emeritus in the Painting and Drawing Program at the University of Hawaii.
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.