Gonske grew up in Irvington, New Jersey and, after high school, enrolled for three years at an art school in Newark. He served for six months in the Army Enlisted Reserves and then worked at advertising agencies for a number of years in New Jersey. After three more years of study at the Frank Reilly School of Art, he moved to the City in 1967 and free-lanced as a men’s fashion illustrator.
During the winter of 1971, Gonske flew out to New Mexico to visit his sister, who was working at the Taos Ski Valley. While checking out the many galleries in Taos and Santa Fe, he was thrilled to see so much representational art. He began to wonder what it would be like to live in northern New Mexico, paint landscapes, and maybe even sell some. In the winter of 1972 at the age of 29, Gonske decided to try something new and moved to Taos for good. He regards this as the smartest decision he ever made.
Gonske, a founding member of the ‘Taos Six,’ has exhibited widely including at the Gilcrease Museum, the National Academy of Western Art and a one person show at the Taos Art Museum and Fechin House. His work is included in numerous collections including the Eiteljorg Collection and the Gilcrease Museum.read Walt Gonske’s Artist Statement