Roping, painting and study fills Koenig's life

Denise working on painting.

Dennis Koenig has many roles in his life, rodeo contestant, father, husband, manager, businessman and grandfather and he is adding an Adams State College bachelor of fine arts student to the mix.

Raised on the Rosebud (Lakota Sioux) Reservation in South Dakota, Koenig served as a marine for four years. He and his wife, Ruth moved to Alamosa in the late 70s and Koenig worked on his first degree from Adams State.

He said he took one of the very first computer classes Adams State offered. "The computers were IBM 360's with punch cards and it took up most of the northeast corner of Richardson Hall."

Koenig graduated with his bachelor's in business and economics in 1981. "My wife received a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing in 1992. She is an author," Koenig said.

The Koenig family at a daughter's wedding.

After graduation, Koenig moved up to Grand Junction, Colo., to work for Boise Cascade Corporation. "I moved up the ranks from assistant manager, to manager, to working in the corporate office. But six months before the downsizing we moved to Meeker (Colo.) and I opened my own construction business," Koenig said.

When Ruth was unexpectedly diagnosed with a tumor, they moved back to Alamosa, Koenig said: "We wanted to be closer to our children and grandchildren." They have seven children and fourteen grandchildren.

"I had always enjoyed painting and when we moved back to Alamosa, my wife told me to take some classes," Koenig said.

As part of the BFA requirements, Koenig will have a solo art exhibit in the spring of 2009. Koenig had a few pieces in the Adams State literary magazine, the Sandhill Review Art show. "One of my first paintings sold to an art patron in Arizona," Koenig said.

Eugene Schilling, professor of art, said: "Dennis is an asset to the program, his work ethic is outstanding. Other students see how much he works and how much he produces and it encourages them to work hard too."

"With my second degree, I am only taking 12 credit hours a semester and maintaining a 4.0 GPA," Koenig said.

Denise rides a bronco during a Ski Hi Stampede rodeo.

Koenig said he has always liked Adams State and has "never taken a class that I didn't like." He said he enjoys the faculty and students really do get individual attention. "The art department at Adams is great and has so many good instructors," he said.

Koenig currently has a rather large slab of marble waiting for him outside the art building. "I really enjoy sculpting and painting," he said. "I will start on my large stone sculpture next fall. I have an idea of what I want to do, but you can only do what the stone gives you. It will probably take me three to four months to carve the piece," Koenig said.

Dana Provence, assistant art professor, said: "Dennis has a great work ethic paired with a thirst for learning new ideas and techniques. Dennis derives great satisfaction from the creative process of art making, which suggests that he will have very good longevity as an artist. He shows great promise both as a sculptor and a painter. Dennis is kind and generous both on campus and off, often helping out wherever there's a need."

"I like art because of the creative process and the thought that goes into it," Koenig said, "Art is a way to express feelings without words."

A page from the 78 Adams State Yearbook of the rodeo club.

Margaret Doell, Art Department Chair and professor, said: "Dennis was my student in introduction to art criticism last semester. He was a great contributor to class as he was able to relate stories from his very diverse array of life experiences and relate them to class discussions. Dennis can be found in the painting studio at almost any time during the day and the effort he puts forth is a great example to all students of what hard work and dedication can accomplish. As a non-traditional student, he realizes what an opportunity the college experience provides and makes the most of it. In addition Dennis is a genial, fun guy with a lot to contribute to the learning experience."

"In my spare time I like to team rope and was once the president and team coach for the Adams State Rodeo Club in the early 80's. Our advisor was Tom Gilmore (emeritus professor of business)," Koenig said, "My oldest son is a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and he just headed to Arizona for 12 different rodeos and will be back in April."

"In the future, I would like to possibly go on to get my MFA as well, but we will see where life takes me," Koenig said.

Article by Marni Zabel