Saturday, April 19, 2014

Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868

Artist enjoys homecoming

DALLAS — Tom Kunke and his wife, Conni, still can't believe how much their lives have changed since they met in July 2010.

Tom and Conni Kunke have opened the Tom Kunke Art Studio and Gallery in Dallas. A "working studio," it displays Tom's work and provides a space for him to paint.

Photo by Jolene Guzman

Tom and Conni Kunke have opened the Tom Kunke Art Studio and Gallery in Dallas. A "working studio," it displays Tom's work and provides a space for him to paint.

December 30, 2013

DALLAS — Tom Kunke and his wife, Conni, still can't believe how much their lives have changed since they met in July 2010.

Both recently retired, Tom from Warner Pacific College in Portland, where he taught health and physical education, and Conni from SAIF, they have opened Tom Kunke Art Studio and Gallery in Dallas.

Tom compared their lives to "a Hallmark movie" because in a span of three years, they’ve found true love, moved back to his hometown, and opened an art studio.

"I didn't really start painting with any consistency until about four years ago, so it's just been a kind of a dream of mine," Tom said. "It's been a journey we have been on together. I started painting a lot more after I met her."

The studio and gallery, at 357 Main St., is a working studio, meaning Tom displays his work and paints there. It won't have set hours, but on a typical day, except Sunday, Tom can likely be found there painting from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Self-taught, Tom paints with a palette knife instead of a brush. He piles the paint onto the canvas, adding texture to his mostly abstract pieces.

Kunke uses a palette knife instead of a brush to apply paint to the canvas, adding texture to his creations.

Photo by Jolene Guzman

Kunke uses a palette knife instead of a brush to apply paint to the canvas, adding texture to his creations.

At first, painting was an escape from his work life.

"I would come home at night and wanted to use a different part of my brain," he said, noting he didn't consider himself "an artist" until recently.

"I had been thinking about it for a long time, but I didn't give myself permission to actually do it," he said. "I thought that was for people that had gone to art school."

Conni helped change his mind and encouraged him to let others see his work. Since then, he has held one art show and is slated for another at the Bush Barn Art Center in Salem this fall.

"I'm kind of a thinker and she is kind of a doer," Tom explained. "That has really complemented me because my tendency is to paint something and put it in a closet where no one could see it."

Tom, the son of well-known former Dallas teacher, basketball coach and superintendent Gordon Kunke, grew up in Dallas. He said he sees momentum for a change in the local economy with the rise of wineries and more tourist-friendly attractions. The couple hopes the studio and gallery can be part of that.

Conni added that since the doors opened at the studio, the couple has been approached by several local artists looking to show their work in town.

"They are just really interested and hungry for that," she said.

"I don't see why Dallas couldn't be a great spot for that," Tom added.

Homegrown Art

What: Tom Kunke Art Studio and Gallery.

Where: 357 Main St., Dallas.

Hours: Hours vary, but if not open Tom can be contacted at 971-409-7686 or tom@tomkunkeart.com.

Hot Jobs