Land of Heart’s Desire, The Magic Realism of Frank Sampson



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Inspired by a love of story-telling and a fascination with animals and art history, Frank Sampson has built a career that has reached a pinnacle in the art community. Sampson, 95, a native of rural Edmore who lives in Boulder, Colo., has earned a reputation as one of the most esteemed artists in that state. His work has been shown in numerous art galleries around the country, including the U.S. Library of Congress and in Belgium, Brazil, and Tokyo. Sampson taught painting, printmaking, and drawing at the University of Colorado for twenty-nine years until his retirement as a professor in 1990. His artwork is whimsical and often involves a story or relationship.

“In general, I like a sense of mystery, almost a little surreal,” he said. Animals figure prominently in his paintings — sometimes appearing as fantastical human-like figures — which he attributes to his early experience on his family’s farm. “I was very attracted to animals from the beginning, more than some people perhaps,” he said. “I enjoyed them, and I participated with them in the sense of taking care of the pigs now and then, milking the cows, and gathering eggs from the chickens. “I found them beautiful in a strange way, and, when I went off to college, I took art and before too long I realized that animals appealed to me a lot, and, in my subconscious, they came forward and influenced quite a bit of the subject matter,” he said.