<font color="#808080">KOUBA, Leslie C.</font>

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LESLIE C. KOUBA
(
1917 - 1998)

Hutchinson, Minnesota is about 50 miles due west of Minneapolis. A few miles north of that is the small farm where Leslie C. Kouba was born on February 3, 1917. He was the middle one of three boys, and naturally was expected to do his share of the work around the farm. All boys prefer running around outdoors to doing chores, and the evasive tactics they adopt are many and varied. Les, being typical, had a scheme that worked admirably. At milking time he would trot out to the barn, get the pail and stool, sit down with his forehead against a warm flank . . . and fall asleep. In no time at all, his father realized that Les wasn't cut out to be a farmer.

The elimination of farming as a career for this particular boy was far from a disaster, however - quite the contrary. He liked to draw wildlife, and being brought up in the Minnesota Countryside with its abundance of birds and animals to watch gave him a head start. When he was only fourteen he began taking art courses by correspondence from Art Instruction, Inc., in Minneapolis, and this professional guidance helped him develop his own style early. This was the only formal art training he had, but it sufficed: the other half of the battle is long hours of hard work, and schools can't supply them.

While he was still taking the courses he had occasion to visit the school in Minneapolis, and there he first met the famous Minnesota animal artist, Walter Wilwerding, (now deceased), who was to be a source of much inspiration and encouragement to the younger man. All during his school years in Hutchinson his favorite subject was drawing, with manual training running a close second.

Mr. Kouba met his wife, the former Orial Thiem of Gibbon, Minnesota, at a Thanksgiving Dance in 1937 and says he's been thankful ever since that he did. They were married on September 9, 1939 in Gibbon and settled in Marshall, Minnesota until World War 11 when they moved to their present home in Minneapolis. There are two daughters, both married. Bonnie, (Mrs. William Gavin), is a professional model and mother of three. Pamela, the younger, now Mrs. John Kausel, is an art teacher. Both girls are talented in art.

Mr. Kouba was enthusiastic member of Ducks Unlimited, Inc., belonged to the Izaak Walton League of America, and is a member of many other conservation groups. Hunting and fishing were his main hobbies, but he also spent some time photographing wildlife. Mrs. Kouba and he collect Indian artifacts and hunted for surface-findings all over the country, constantly adding to an already large collection. They traveled a great deal, not only for pleasure, but also in a search for new ideas and scenes for painting.

At one time early in his professional life, Mr. Kouba had an advertising art studio that happened to have large peg-board walls. There he hung his own paintings and those of some of his close friends. The work sold at an ever-increasing rate, and in 1956 he moved into larger quarters where he could show the work of more artists. Under his direction the business continued to grow, and five years later he expanded again. Now he has one of the largest and finest galleries of its type in the country, American Wildlife Art Galleries, with literally hundreds of Items on display. There are watercolors, oil paintings, etchings, Sculptures, wood carvings, ceramics, leathercraft, and stone lithographs, representing many top artists.

He designed the well known Migratory Bird Stamp framing set which displays the entire collection of duck stamps and has been very popular with stamp collectors.

Mr. Kouba had some excellent color photographs of the gallery made up in post card form, they were free for the asking. Each one was worth a thousand words of mine, and once having seen one, a visit to the gallery became irresistible to an art lover. A quote from one of the cards: "Any connoisseur of wildlife and western art will recognize and appreciate the many distinctive creations by these internationally famous artists. It is a pleasure for us to extend an invitation to art lovers and sportsmen alike to come in and browse."














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