Artist Mary Koski was one of Hawai‘i’s premier painters portraying Hawai‘i and its beautiful people with grace and affection. Her portraits were widely sought after and her tender paintings of children have won her a place in the heart’s of people all over the word.
Ke Ola Magazine did a full feature story about Mary in the September-October 2011 issue, which can be read in our digital magazine, available on our website.
Born in San Diego, CA, Mary was an honor student all through school, and was notedly talented in art, ballet, and music. She majored in Art at the University of California at Santa Barbara and at Mexico City College in Mexico City.
She began her career as a professional artist at the age of seventeen. She designed and hand drew ads for a well known agency in Santa Barbara and made beautiful hand painted scarves and ties that were sold at I. Magnin’s new department store on Wilshire Boulevard. It was considered among the most elegant department stores in the nation, at the time.
While in Mexico City, she met and married her husband who was there with the Finnish embassy. A year after they were married, they moved to Brownsville, Texas. While there, she did many murals in both private homes and public buildings, while focusing on starting and raising their young family.
Mary and her mother lived in Honolulu in the late ’40s, both of them working at the Royal Hawaiian. Mary loved Hawai‘i, so in 1961, she and her family moved to Hilo and rented the Richardson’s Estate in South Hilo, which is now Richardson’s Ocean Park.
At that time, she started to paint portraits and did many families in Hilo. It wasn’t until moving to San Francisco, a few years later, that she started to paint seriously and began showing her art at several galleries.
In the mid ’60s the family moved again, this time to the north east, to Lancaster, PA. She felt very much at home there and they stayed for six years. During this time, her career in painting took off and she became well known for portraits, still lifes, and miniature paintings.
In 1970, Mary began an extended painting tour of Europe with commissions and exhibitions in Central Europe and Scandinavia. After many one-woman-shows, her work is now found in public and major private collections around the world. She painted many portraits of dignitaries and royalty and had a wonderful time going through all the art museums and refining her craft.
After returning to the United States in the mid ’70s, she and her husband, along with her daughter, Kathy, and son-in-law Bertil Long, opened a fine arts gallery in Houston, TX. While they all enjoyed the gallery business, they decided, as a family, to search for a better quality of life than a big city could offer.
In 1983, when Mary moved back to Hawai‘i with her family, she felt, like so many people, that she had come home.
She was captured by the innocence, beauty, and charm of Hawai‘i’s children. Today her “Children of Hawaii” calendars and books are loved by children and collectors alike.
On January 25, 2015, at the age of 85, she passed away quietly in her beautiful home in Waimea on Hawai‘i Island, surrounded by her family, friends, cats, flowers, and fairies.
She is sorely missed.
Contact Mary’s daughter, Kathy Long