Michelle Kondos

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Michelle Valborg Kondos is an award-winning artist living in both Borrego Springs, in the remote California desert, and New Orleans, LA. She grew up in the Boston area and traveled widely in Europe during childhood, having a Swedish mother and a Greek father. She comes from a lineage of artists on the Swedish side of her family, most notably her great uncle, Sven Vickstrom, whose works are represented in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. She attended Bennington College in Vermont, as well as Regents College of Art in London, where she studied art history and painting under Owen Wood, the renowned English artist and illustrator. She continued her studies in portraiture, landscape, and life painting with Latvian painter Auseklis Ozols at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art. And then began a period of extensive plein air painting in Venice, Italy over the following five years.

Michelle has exhibited widely in galleries and exhibitions across the U.S. She was commissioned to paint the official city hall portraits of two former New Orleans Mayors- Marc Morial and Ernest “Dutch” Morial as well as many other political figures, judges, CEO’s, university deans and other prominent individuals throughout the U.S.

While living in Durango, Colorado she became fascinated with the beauty and the history and spirit of the American West. Her love of horses had already began in childhood as an avid rider. Today the main areas of focus in her painting are western and wildlife works as well as plein air landscapes. In 2015 she won Best Oil In Show at the Western Spirit Art Show in Cheyenne, Wyoming and in 2015 received 2nd place in the international Bold Brush Competition. She has been showing her work annually since 2016 at the Mountain Oyster Club Western Art Show in Tucson, AZ, recently receiving the purchase prize by the club for their permanent collection. In October of 2017 several of her wildlife paintings were featured in Western Art Collector Magazine.

In 2017 Michelle was commissioned to paint the official portrait of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu for the collection of the City of New Orleans. This is her second Mayoral portrait for the city. The portrait was unveiled during the New Orleans Tricentennial Celebration in the spring of 2018. Recently, her wildlife paintings were selected by the Society of Animal Artists to be shown at the Nature in Art Museum in Gloucester, England and at the 59th Annual Society of Animal Artists Exhibition- Art and the Animal, at the Briscoe Museum of Western Art in San Antonio, TX. She was just elected to Signature Status by the Society of Animal Artists in 2019. She recently has had paintings chosen to be included in the C.M. Russell Museum Annual Exhibition and Auction Event in Great Falls, MT in March of 2018 through 2022. She also participates annually in the Settlers West American Miniatures Show in Tucson, AZ.

Michelle is very pleased to have been chosen to participate for the fourth time in the prestigious Cowgirl Up Art Exhibition and Sale at the Desert Caballeros Museum in Wickenburg, AZ in March of 2023.
Her work is represented in public and private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe.


“The American West – what is it and why has it so defined our collective imagination? An ideal? A shared dream of freedom, space, and of infinite personal possibility? But the West is also smack-your-senses real – as real as the sight of a pronghorn disappearing into the haze of a perfect sunset, as real as the unexpected rattle of a startled diamond back three feet off the trail on which I am walking.

“In my work, I try to walk the line between those two realms: immediacy and vision. I try to capture the ineffable magic of the place, while still honoring its can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it reality. Trying to paint it feels like walking a tightrope. The process captures my attention just as surely as that rattlesnake does.

“When I start a painting, it is like striking up a conversation with a weirdly familiar stranger. I have an image in my mind, but I never know exactly where the process will lead. I am always trying to find that fulcrum-point between, on one hand, western reality – and, on the other hand, that mysterious West that seems to lie behind the world we grasp with our senses, whether we are looking a majestic landscape or a humble antelope squirrel.

“I paint realistically in an age of abstraction. Bless us all – but to me just trying to unravel what lies before my eyes out here in this sacred landscape is discipline enough. I’ve been staring at it all, as perhaps only an artist can, for a very long time, and I still always feel that the West is trying to tell me something, something I can’t quite grasp – but maybe, just maybe I can get it onto a canvas.

“Sometimes I think see that holy ghost of the West in there, shining out through the paintings I do. Those are the paintings I love. Those are the ones I show. The rest get painted over.” – Michelle Kondos

Works by Michelle Kondos

View All Works by Michelle Kondos