Portraiture ·

Portrait of Don



Koestner and Lack met at the Minneapolis School of Art.1 Sharing the same artistic point of view they immediately became close friends, a friendship that lasted the rest of their lives. Koestner taught landscape painting at Atelier Lack as well as The Minnesota River School. Over the years he mentored scores of aspiring landscape painters.

Don Koestner (b.1923 – d.2009) 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.1 Upon graduation, he built a cabin near Hastings, MN, living his life patterned after Thoreau and pursuing a career as a professional landscape painter. He lived in Hastings for 30 years before moving to 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. Over the years, he taught and encouraged scores of painting students. Don inspired many because of the simple and practical way he lived. He and his wife of 44 years, Fern, joyfully raised two children on a painter’s income.2


  • “Richard Lack”, Maryhill Museum of Fine Arts, One Man Show, Maryhill, WA, 1961
  • “Distinguished Company: A Retrospective Exhibition of Works by Richard Lack, Don Koestner & Stephen Gjertson”, Inez Greenberg Gallery, Bloomington Art Center, Bloomington, MN, 2009


  • Richard Lack: An American Master, 2002, Stephen Gjertson, The American Society of Classical Realism, Minneapolis, MN, ISBN 0-9636180-3-2, repr. pg. 17


1 Known today as the Minneapolis College of Art and Design associated with The Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
2 Star Tribune, Obituary, January 3, 2010