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  • Richard J. Van Wagoner

Richard J. Van Wagoner

Richard Van Wagoner was born in Midway, Utah in 1932.  He is a watercolorist known for photo-real paintings of the western urban landscapes of freeways with cars, trucks, and other vehicles; his work has recently evolved to allegorical explorations. He lives in Midway, Utah.

Van Wagoner attended Weber State University and later earned a BFA from the University of Utah in 1954. After teaching in local high schools for several years, Van Wagoner earned an MS from Utah State University in 1958. He earned an MFA from the University of Utah (1974) where Douglas Snow, Alvin Gittins, and Tony Smith were his mentors.

Van Wagoner's paintings Donor Bank (1991) and White Volkwagen (1982) are held in the Springville Museum of Art permanent collection.  Playing Doctor or Bless Their Little Hearts, the jurors' second place award winner, in the Springville Museum of Art 74th spring salon, is an example of his allegorical work.

Biography adapted from Springville Museum of Art.

Richard J. Van Wagoner was born in Midway, Utah, in 1932, lived in California for a few years and then returned to Utah where he received his education. He graduated from Davis High School and Weber College and then received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Utah. He earned a Master of Fine Arts from Utah State University in Printmaking. Then he received another Master's degree, this one in painting from the University of Utah.

In 1959, Van Wagoner began teaching at Weber State College in Ogden. Originally, he taught many different art classes; but later he specialized in watercolor, drawing and painting. He was chairman of the department of art from 1975-1981. Now retired, he continues to paint and exhibit throughout Utah and the United States.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Van Wagoner painted figures in landscapes. Later, his work increasingly depicted the western urban landscape of freeways and automobiles against a backdrop of inner-city and suburban vistas.

Van Wagoner has always been interested in the ordinary, unposed moments of daily life and in recent years his subject matter has focused on autos, trucks and highways. Donor Bank, his 1990 oil painting, is a perfect example of his shift to painting urban landscapes with automobiles. Van Wagoner says he has always loved or hated cars. He feels the transportation system dominates our lives and is the greatest manifestation of man's interests, needs, and activities. The title Donor Bank reflects this domination by comparing the use of used parts from wrecked cars to the use of donated human organs. The realism of this painting reinforces Van Wagoner's comment on the importance of cars in our lives.

Biography courtesy of The Springville Museum of Art.

Newspaper Articles

"4 Galleries Featuring Some Favorite Utah Artists." The Deseret News, October 29, 1989.

"An Arty, Leisurely Walk On A Short Pierpont Avenue." The Deseret News, January 15, 1989.

"Art Canvass." The Deseret News, December 25, 1994.

"Art Canvass." The Deseret News, July 28, 1991.

"Art Notes: Faculty Show at Weber State University." The Salt Lake Tribune, November 4, 1990.

"Art Scene: Utah Spring Salon's 67th Edition Welcomes New Artists." The Salt Lake Tribune, April 21, 1991.

"Bronze Statue Adding Weight To Porter Rockwell Legend It Will Pay Tribute To Famed Pioneer In Lehi Park." The Deseret News, October 8, 1999.

"Caption Only: Landscape Art." The Deseret News, July 17, 2003.

"Center A Portrait In Excellence." The Salt Lake Tribune, April 23, 1995.

"Coming Up: Visual Art." The Salt Lake Tribune, February 20, 2000.

"Coming Up: Visual Art." The Salt Lake Tribune, October 31, 1999.

"Coming Up: Visual Arts." The Salt Lake Tribune, October 20, 1996.

"Coming Up Visual Arts Calendar." The Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1995.

"Coming Up: Visual Arts." The Salt Lake Tribune, May 1, 1994.

"Coming Up." The Salt Lake Tribune, November 21, 1993.

"Common Threads Bind 4 Different Art Exhibits." The Deseret News, February 2, 1992.

"Foul Creek May Soon Sparkle." The Deseret News, July 20, 2004.

"Galleries." The Deseret News, January 8, 1995.

"Judges Bring Different Perspectives to Art Show." The Deseret News, July 17, 2003.

"New Directions Controversies Find Way Onto Painter's Canvas Van Wagoner: A Brush With Controversy." The Salt Lake Tribune, July 28, 1996.

"Ogden Is Blooming With Up-To-Date Art." The Deseret News, November 18, 1990.

"Park City Galleries Blossom with Beauty amid the Snow." The Deseret News, December 20, 1992.

"Salt Lake, Davis Galleries Offer A Feast For The Eyes Take A Break And Visit A Nearby Exhibit." The Deseret News, October 9, 1988.

"Several S.L. Art Exhibitions Send Visitors on Journey through Time." The Deseret News, March 19, 1989.

"Showing At Local Galleries." The Deseret News, April 2, 2000.

"'Small Packages' Contain Lots of Beauty For Art Lovers." The Deseret News, December 6, 1992.

"Some Galleries Don't Take A Holiday From Serious Art." The Deseret News, November 30, 1993.

"Spotlight Visual Arts." The Salt Lake Tribune, January 5, 1992.

"Spring Salon Displays Vitality and Variety of Old and New Artists." The Deseret News, April 21, 1991.

"Sunstone Silent Art Auction Will Be Aug. 12." The Deseret News, August 6, 1995.

"The 69th Utah Spring Salon: Prestigious Show Features Variety of Artistic Styles." The Deseret News, May 9, 1993.

"The Heart and Soul of Landscape Art." The Deseret News, July 17, 2003.

"The Landscape Art Show 2003 Color of the Land." The Deseret News, May 18, 2003.

"The Spring Salon." The Deseret News, May 19, 2002.

"The Viewer Is The Artist's Collaborator." The Deseret News, May 30, 1993.

"Variety Marks Annual Spring Salon." The Deseret News, April 27, 2003.

"Visual Art." The Salt Lake Tribune, March 5, 2000.

"Visual Arts Calendar." The Salt Lake Tribune, January 27, 1995.

"Watercolors Are Worth A 2nd Look." The Deseret News, July 9, 1989.

Books

Dunbier, Lonnie Pierson, ed. AskART, The Artists Bluebook. Scottsdale, AZ: AskART.com, 2003.

Olpin, Robert S., William C. Seifrit, and Vern G. Swanson. Artists of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1999.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Paintings and Sculpture. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publishers, 1991.

Van Wagoner, Richard J. The Figure in Landscape. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 1974.

Miscellaneous

Richard J. Van Wagoner. Springville Museum of Art. http://www.springvilleartmuseum.org/collections/browse.html?x=artist&artist_id=400.

 Last Modified 5/6/14