Alaska Artists: Marvin Mangus

lonely caribou in Alakan Nature

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Marvin Dale Mangus, was one of Alaska's leading artists for more than a half a century and a history making geologist. Mangus was widely considered in the front ranks of Alaska painters from the 1950s on. Even Alaskans who care nothing for painting are in his debt for his work as a geologist.

Marvin Mangus was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania. His father, Alfred Ross Mangus, initially worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad in Altoona, but later started Mangus Express Company, a small trucking company based in Altoona. Marvin Mangus was the youngest of three siblings. In high school, Mangus was interested at pursuing an art career, but as the Depression lingered on, he studied ceramic science in the Mineral Science Department at Penn State University.

After the US military decided that there it had a shortage of geologists Mangus was asked by the Dean to switch his major to geology. He later completed his Masters of Science in Geology in 1946. At Penn State, he was also a member of the men's gymnastics team, medaling in the 1945 AAU Gymnastics Championship in rope climbing.

In 1947, fresh from earning his masters degree from Penn State University, he joined the U.S. Geological Survey's Navy Oil Unit searching for formations likely to hold oil on the North Slope of Alaska. In 1958 he joined Atlantic Refining Co., endured an unpleasant stint in Guatemala -- "It's hot and sweaty and full of prickly thorns and snakes. Bad snakes," he later recalled.

In the late 1940s to early 1950s Mangus began his art career with still life and landscape painting in Washington D.C., as a member of the Washington Landscape Club, He quickly improved his impressionistic painting techniques thanks to lessons and workshops from artists Eliot O'Hara, Roger Ritasse, and William F. Walter. Landscape painting combined his passionate interests in art, geology, history, and his love of the out-of-doors.

Mangus was a Plein Air painter, and whenever possible, he carried hid painting supplies into the field to record what he saw and experienced. Mangus completed paintings of most places that he lived or visited, and worked in the media of oils, cassein, acrylics, and watercolor.

Marvin Mangus painted scenes recording the contributions by previous generations of Alaskan geologists. He sometimes gave painting demonstrations to Anchorage school children. Mangus' artwork has been exhibited in numerous venues, including the Corcoran Gallery of Washington D.C., the Smithsonian Museum Area Show, the Arts Club of Washington, the Baltimore Watercolor Society, All-Alaska Juried shows, and the Centennial Traveling Art Exhibition. Several of his paintings are part of the permanent collection of the Anchorage Fine Arts Museum.

Marvin Mangus was keenly aware of contemporary art trends and employed expressionist and impressionist techniques with his colors and brushwork. His was a bold, even avant-garde style for the Alaska art scene in the decades before and after statehood.

His subjects, on the other hand, were classic Alaska landscapes, cabins, stern-wheelers, pack horses, dog teams, fish camps, images of the vanishing last frontier he arrived just in time to see and record. "I'm painting an Alaska that isn't here anymore," he told the Daily News in 2004.

Johnny AculiakEdwin Tappan Adney| George Twok Aden AhgupukAlvin Eli Amason| Saradell Ard|   Belmore Browne| Vincent ColyerJules Bernard DahlagerLockwood De Forest| Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh| William Franklin Draper| | Henry Wood Elliott| John Fehringer| Claire Fejes| Louis Agassiz Fuertes| Magnus Colcord Heurlin| Norman Jackson| Rockwell Kent| Sydney Mortimer Laurence| Fred Machetanz| Marvin Mangus| Milo Minock| James Kivetoruk Moses| Rie MunozJoseph Henry Sharp| James Everett Stuart| John Webber| Kesler Woodward|


Marvin Mangus Alaska artwork

alaskan artist Marvin Mangus painting

Alaska's Tribes:

Below is a full list of the different Alaska Native cultures. Within each culture are many different tribes.

Learn more about Alaskan tribes

Aleut Athabascan Eyak
Haida Inuit Tlingit
Tsimshian Yupik