Ron Kowalke was born November 8th, 1936 in Chicago. He attended Chicago Vocational High School on the south side of the city and after graduation in 1954, enrolled as a B.F.A. candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago academic program. He accepted an art scholarship from Rockford College in 1956, graduated in 1959 and went on for an M.F.A. degree in 1960 from Cranbrook Academy in Michigan.
His teaching career began as an art instructor at Northern Illinois University and shifted in 1960 to the Swain School of Design located in New Bedford, Massachusetts. In 1969, he accepted a full time teaching position in the Art Department of the University of Hawaii. He is a full professor in the painting and drawing program and teaches courses ranging from beginning drawing to graduate painting.
His work is included in numerous permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Boston Public Library, The Library of Congress, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu,and the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
He has participated in over one hundred national and international exhibitions and has accepted numerous invited teaching positions including the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, the Academy of Fine Art in Warsaw, Poland, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia.