Amarillo artist to exhibit works at Wayland gallery

Amarillo resident Ben Konis, noted as Artist of the Southwest, will have recent works on display at Wayland Baptist University's Abraham Art Gallery June 28 through August 6. A reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on June 28 will kick off the exhibit.

The show, titled "Down the Road A Piece," will feature some of Konis' signature oil and pastel paintings that have won him international acclaim. Best known for his vibrant colors and depictions of the Southwest and Native Americans, Konis claims that subject matter as his muse.

"When I moved west from New York in 1969, the Native Americans of the Southwest had a profound influence on me. The whole focus of my art changed," Konis said. "The Indians, their heritage and customs, their land, the color and culture that they embody, captivated me completely. I wanted to portray their proud struggle and deep reverence for life in my work.

"Now that I have traveled extensively and painted in many countries, I've found that the common man, in all the richness of everyday life, is what inspires me to paint."

Dr. Candace Keller, associate professor of art and curator for the Abraham Gallery, said Konis is well known in the Panhandle area and his show should appeal to many.

"He's a long-time Panhandle resident and has been a self-supporting artist since 1969, which is pretty remarkable in this area," Keller said. "His colors are brilliant, which I really like, and he works in a quick, impressionistic style, which is pleasing."

Keller said Konis is also known for his instruction, and he leads many workshops on his pastel painting techniques and other art skills. He takes regular trips to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to lead art classes and does many seminars in his hometown of Amarillo.

Konis is a member of the Salmagundi Club of New York City, the Pastel Society of America, Lone Star Pastel Society and several other regional art associations. He has won numerous awards for his work at exhibitions including several Best of Show awards at the "Best of the Southwest Show." He was also the first winner of American Artist magazine's Achievement Award for Excellence in Pastel in 1992.