BIO BY JAKE SENIUK, DIRECTOR OF PAFAC, JANUARY 2012
Erik Sandgren was born in Corvallis, Oregon in 1952 and grew up there in the environs of Oregon State University. His father, Nelson Sandgren, was a noted painter and OSU art professor and the household was saturated with visual culture that fostered his early interests and education as a painter. Erik went east to study at Yale (BA.1975) and Cornell (MFA, 1977) where he honed his painting and printmaking skills and absorbed the broad path of Ivy League liberal arts.
Like a homing salmon, however, Sandgren returned to the headwaters of his art and of his early life in the Pacific Northwest, drawn by a vivid landscape where raw nature is close-at-hand and the history of industrialization is little more than a century old. Following his father's career trajectory he landed in Aberdeen, Washington in 1989 where he has served as a one-man art department at Grays Harbor College to the present day.
Sabbaticals have allowed him to pursue teaching and artist-in-residence stays in England and France from where he has explored that more settled landscape through on site painting and expanded firsthand his knowledge of the history of Western art and architecture.
Sandgren has exhibited broadly in many solo, two-person, group, and juried shows and his work is held in numerous private and public collections including those of the Franklin Furnace Gallery of the Museum of Modern Art, Yale University Art Gallery and the China National Academy of Fine Art in Hangzhou.
He has also created a number of public art projects that include a 4,000 square feet mural of Oregon landscapes he completed with his father in the Eugene/Springfield Airport in 1989. Most recently he has completed a 75-foot mural for the Port of Grays Harbor's Commission Room, commemorating one hundred years of marine commerce, while accentuating the natural riches of the vital estuary as the context for this productive harbor.