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For forty years Frank Sampson—now ninety-two years old—taught painting and printmaking at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He returned to his North Dakota family home in Edmore for one month in summer and a second month in winter where he continues to paint. His parents, Abner and Mabel Sampson, were farmers. He visits his older brother Abner Jr., now in a Devils Lake nursing home, and eighty-year-old Clark who continues to farm with his sons. Another of the farming brothers, Milton, is deceased. His youngest brother, the late Douglas, took his PhD from Yale, became a nuclear scientist at Los Alamos, and  taught at Penn State for three decades. 


Frank Sampson


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When asked about his paintings, Mr. Sampson says, In looking for past experiences and antecedents that may have influenced my work as an artist I think immediately of my childhood on a farm near Edmore, North Dakota surrounded by pigs, chickens, horses and cows as well as a story-telling mother who entertained and rewarded us, her five sons, with vivid adventure stories. These wonderful tales were full of fantasy and frequently animals played major roles.


Sampson is considered one of Colorado’s most revered and important artists, a devotee of his own brand of Surrealism.  Through his  paintings he tells fantastical stories. For example, Waiting at the Train is a monumental landscape. Gathered under the dominating tree is an unlikely cast of characters including the French stock character, weary Pierrot. Other signature Sampson symbols assembled for travel are an elephant, a lion, a bear, a pelican, a giraffe and a child. But could any train make its way through the dense forest? Like Old Master Paintings, Sampson’s charming paintings mystify.


Mr. Sampson earned his BA in art from Concordia College, Moorhead (1950) and his MFA in painting and printmaking from the University of Iowa (1952). He joined the United States Army (1954-56) then returned to Iowa for three years of postgraduate work under Mauricio Lasansky, the groundbreaking and world-famous printmaker (1956-50). He won a Fulbright to Belgium to study the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch (1959-60). Upon his return, he joined the art faculty at the University of Colorado in 1961 to teach painting and printmaking. He retired as a full professor in 1990.


Curated by Laurel Reuter, Director of the North Dakota Museum of Art, the exhibit  will be tailored to the available wall space of the venue.



acrylic on Archers paper

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Expulsion from Eden

acrylic on canvas


The Other Side of the Hill

acrylic on Archers paper

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