Les Kouba Painting

Wayne Meineke on Les Kouba


Wayne Meineke, a Minneapolis landscape artist, credits Kouba with much of his early training. “Some of the most valuable tutoring I received,” he says, “was given to me by Les when I was growing up.” Wayne was 11 years old when he met Kouba. He would hop on the bus going downtown with a bunch of drawings under his arm. “I’m not sure what Les saw in those early efforts, but he always took the time, not particularly to critique my work, but to really help and encourage me. He always had as much time to spend as I needed.”

“Walking into Kouba’s studio was not only an opportunity to see Les’s work, but also the work of the artists he appreciated. Les has a very discerning eye for quality in art, and his early American collection rivaled that of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. For a young impressionable artist, these paintings were wonderful guidance in themselves.”

“I believe that Kouba’s work is comparable to C.M. Russell, the great Western artist. Many artists have painted beautiful paintings of the Old West, but a few, with first-hand accuracy, made a larger contribution. With their brushstrokes, they recorded their own time and with their colors, they captured the spirits of their subjects. Les has painted rural America for us, paintings of the Midwest as he knew it. When you look at the Shelter Series, these paintings aren’t just portraying wildlife; they portray farm life in transition with old fence lines that are no longer mended and old machinery in the grove, like memorials to an America that is forever changed. For any of us of a younger generation, plowing with horses and corn shocks in the fields are left only to imagination. Through Les’s work I have gained an understanding and appreciation for the spirit of the people and the quality of life they enjoyed.”

“If an artist is able to record something of his own spirit and that of the people around him, what more could a person accomplish in his own lifetime?”


Excerpt taken from The Legacy of Les. C Kouba by Kay Johnson

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