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Don Koestner (1923 - 2009)
Don Koestner was born in St. Paul, and after serving in the US Army in China during WWII used his GI bill to attend the Minneapolis School of Art. Upon graduation, he built a cabin near Hastings, MN, living his life patterned after Thoreau and pursuing his dream of becoming a professional landscape painter. He lived in Hastings for 30 years before moving to another cabin he built in Silver Bay, MN. His passion for painting in oils never abated and he painted into his eighties.
A master painter who ground his own pigments and stretched his own canvases, he was well known and respected for his ability to capture the beauty of nature using an impressionist palette and approach to his work.
Koestner met artist Richard Lack at the Minneapolis School of Art. They shared the same artistic point of view and immediately became close friends, a friendship that lasted the rest of their lives. Koestner taught landscape painting at Atelier Lack School of Fine Arts (an art school in Minneapolis, founded by Richard Lack) as well as The Minnesota River School. Over the years, he taught and encouraged scores of aspiring painting students. He also inspired many with the simple and practical way he lived.
Koestner spent more than half a century recording the natural world in an impressionistic style that reflected his fascination with light, his close observation of nature in all seasons, and his technical knowledge of the late 19th century landscape painters whose works inspired him to follow their course. His work has been described as “representational from the classical realism school, but with an Impressionistic quality.” While Koestner created many accomplished portraits and still life paintings, his passion was landscapes - and he dedicated his life to his passion.
He and his wife of 44 years, Fern, joyfully raised two children on a painter’s income. Koestner passed away in December 2009 at the age of 86.