Here is the text of the eulogy delivered by Hal’s friend and gallery display partner, the Rev. Richard W. Patt, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Milwaukee, Thursday, April 4, 2019.
As you can see, I am wearing an outfit that looks like clergy apparel. Actually it is, because I am now an ordained Lutheran pastor for over 58 years. Yes, you heard that right! After retiring 20 years ago, I chose a career as a practicing fine artist.
The clergy shirt, by the way, is one of the newer type. No stiff white collar. When it’s unbuttoned at the top, like it is now, I function as a clergy-person. But when I unbutton the top – like now [unbuttons top button] – I am a lay person, like you.
Now I am speaking as a fellow artist, which many here tonight are, as well. Several years ago Hal Koenig invited me (imagine!) to become a kind-of permanent guest artist in his beautiful gallery in the lobby of the Marshall Building in the Third Ward. Thank you, Hal, thank you.
By the way, you may have noticed that I pronounced Hal’s last name “Keh-nig.” I come from rich German stock. I know that K-O-E-N-I-G is pronounced “Keh-nig.” The letter “e” denotes an umlaut, so it has to be “Keh-nig.” After being in his gallery for about six months, I noticed at one of the gallery nights that everyone was calling him “Hal Kone-ig.” Afterwards I asked Hal, “How do you pronounce your last name?” He said, “Richard, you can pronounce it however you wish.” He was that kind, that gentle in his dealings with everyone. He had at least six months’ worth of patience with me.
Being an artist, I speak of Hal Kone-ig as an artist. His paintings are painter-ly – fastidiously planned. His cityscapes are always in exact perspective, due in part to his background as an architect. His use of color was pretty flawless. A lot of his canvasses are monumentally large, but he was able to keep all of the artistic requirements in tow, so that the unity of these giants is a marvel achieved and a joy to behold.
But beyond his superb artistic achievements, these paintings were part of Hal’s mission. Some viewers looked at his Milwaukee cityscapes and remarked, “That’s Milwaukee? He sure makes Milwaukee look good!” And that Hal did. He did that because he loved this city. He wanted Milwaukee to be an inviting place. He wanted this to be a place of unsurpassing community where all of us live together for the sake of one another, where we can be comfortable in our neighborhoods and comfortable with who we are. He wanted our civic places to be civil places. He did not want our “circumstances” or our fears to rule us. His paintings usually showed us Milwaukee in its cheering early morning light or its splendorous late afternoon glow.
Thank you, Hal, for giving us a vision of what we will yet become as a city and of what we all can be, as kind, loving, understanding human beings, who go forth in each morning’s light, as humanely as you did, and to come home washed by the glowing afternoon’s sunlight with the satisfaction that we contributed one more day to this city’s beauty and hope. That is what you did each day, Hal.
So as a clergy person and as a friend, I say, Amen! And Amen!
Richard will debut a series of paintings entitled “Night Sky” in tribute to Hal at Oil Gallery’s grand reopening on Spring Gallery Night, Friday, April 26.