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The late Don Kunz is known for his work as a calligrapher, painter, and teacher. Having taught calligraphy at Queens College, and serving the Cooper Union with distinction for 33 years, Kunz enriched the lives of generations of talented students by contributing immensely to the teaching and learning of painting and calligraphy.


Known for creating a meaningful dialogue between the disciplines of painting and calligraphy, Kunz is also remembered well for greatly supporting the efforts of students pursuing the study of graphic design. 

His work can be described as canvases filled with rich color and texture, often incorporating calligraphic letterforms and enigmatic symbols.


Robert Rindler, former Dean of The School of Art at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art describes Kunz’s work as “a celebration of color and calligraphic gestures. It is the orchestra warming up in discord and evolving before your eyes into the most complex orchestral magic. They are eternally moving while frozen in time and place. All of Kunz’s paintings require our participation in a dialogue.”


Don Kunz (1937 – 2001) was a prolific artist who painted medium and large scale works on canvas as well as smaller works on paper and canvas.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Kunz studied calligraphy at Reed College with Lloyd Reynolds (1902–1978) was an art teacher at Grant High School in Portland. He trained at the Art Institute of Chicago and Portland’s Museum Art School.

During the 1950s Kunz’s paintings were shown at the Portland and Seattle Art Museums and at galleries in Portland.


Kunz taught calligraphy at Queens College, NY; and at The Cooper Union beginning in 1966 where he was granted tenure at in 1993. He continued to teach painting and calligraphy there until his death in 2001.

In 2008 in New York City, the Wilmer Jennings Gallery presented the exhibition Inspired by Actual Events: Exhibition in Tribute to Don Kunz which was organized by Joseph Woolridge, curated by Gregory Coates, and included artwork by Marina Gutierrez, Lisa Hamilton, Glenis Holder, Ryan Oakes, Trevor Oakes, and Jasmin Ortiz.



A virtual event was recorded on February 25, 2021 by the Cooper Union Alumni Association to showcase the work of Cooper Union alumni who studied with Don Kunz, Professor of Painting and Calligraphy at Cooper Union between 1969 and 2001.

Each of the 10 participants, all former students of Don Kunz, presented for five minutes. Sharing selections from their portfolios briefly and informally with reference to Kunz's influence on their careers. Collectively they span an array of artistic disciplines and professional achievements. The event concluded with a short, informal Q&A period.
Speakers (in order of appearance): Mark A. Vasquez ME '88 (co-organizer) David Adler AR'88 (host) Ina Saltz A’72 John Murray A’75 Bernard Maisner A’77 Julio Vega A’77 Jeanne Greco A’80 Mindy Lang A’82 Carmela Bode A’84 Charles Nix A’89 Linn Meyers A’90 Vincent Serritella A'99

coming soon


​​Rindler, Robert (2008),,

Inspired by Actual Events - Exhibition in Tribute to Don Kunz -

curated by Gregory Coates, A Greater Town


Palladino, Robert (2008),,

Reed College, Portland, OR


Oregon Painters: the First Hundred Years (1859-1959),

Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit. Oregon Historical Society Pr;

First Ed edition (October 1, 1999)


Jerry Kelly, Alice Koeth (2000). Kunz, Don in Jerry Kelly, Alice Koeth, Artist & Alphabet: 20th Century Calligraphy and Letter Art in America. Boston: David Godine, in association with The American Institute of Graphic Arts and The Society of Scribes. 

ISBN 1-56792-118-3.

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