J. Frank Sampson was born on March 24, 1928 to parents Silas Abner Sampson and Mabel Elizabeth Trimble. A native of Edmore, North Dakota, he has frequently traveled across the Midwest to pursue his personal and professional goals. Upon completing a bachelor’s and master’s degree, he commenced his career as an acting assistant professor of fine arts at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1961, holding the position for two years, then four more years as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 1968, and in 1972, became a full professor – a role he fulfilled until attaining emeritus status in 1990. During his tenure, he taught from beginner to master level studies, always finding enjoyment out of educating students and aiding in their personal growth.
Alongside his academic pursuits, Mr. Sampson is a prolific artist and printmaker whose work can be found in such states as Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Massachusetts. Recently being featured in the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Arts in 2018, his work has also been prominently displayed in one-man shows at the Arvada Center of the Arts, the Denver Art Museum and the Walker Art Center. Impressively, he is also represented in permanent collections at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Dulin Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress, the Minnesota Museum of Art, Washburn University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Boston Public Library, among other prestigious locations.
Growing up on a North Dakota farm in the 1930s, Mr. Sampson became involved in his profession through the encouragement of his mother, who had taught grade school before marriage. While working on his bachelor’s degree at Concordia College, he was recommended by his art teacher, Cyrus Running, to complete graduate work at the University of Iowa. There, he was fortunate to study with Mauricio Lasansky, who encouraged him to apply for a Fulbright grant. Upon receiving the grant, Mr. Sampson was able to work in the studio of the former Belgium artist Rodolph Strebelle in Uccle, Belgium. As a result of his one-man show in the Galerie D’Egmont of Brussels, he met the Flemish writer Michele de Ghelderode, who wrote an article about his work in a local art magazine. Throughout his career as an artist, Mr. Sampson realized that artwork was more than just self-expression on canvas – it was like a meditation that enhances one’s sense for life, creation and spirit.
Currently residing in Boulder, Colorado, Mr. Sampson has retired from his role as a teacher but wholeheartedly maintains his role as an active painter. He enjoys exercising and listening to classical music in his spare time. He is currently involved with the presentation of a one-man show at the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks, located on the campus of the University of North Dakota and curated by Laurel Reuter. The show opened on July 18, 2019.
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