James Penfield

A Minnesota native who grew up with a deep love for the outdoors (and snowboarding in the mountains), Penfield's approach is based on actively interacting with landscape to generate perceptions and impressions The resulting work is based on direct contact with nature through experience. Early on, before he began painting landscapes, he started to develop visual aesthetics and branding design for friends, which you can see carry on into his fine artwork. Live painting at music venues allowed him to soak up all the creativity a scene like that can bring. He went on to attend Parsons the New School in NYC, which led to an internship with Vice Magazine and freelance design work in the city.

As a graphic designer, I love to work with musicians and music branding, developing visual aesthetics along with sound. The idea of mixing sensory experiences has always intrigued me and I do dabble in the music as much as possible. I look at color and sound like a tool that pushes and pulls space. In order for the impression it communicates to stick, I believe you must experience life in the city and in nature. For me there exists a distinct set of experiences that we all have related to what we call landscape and wildlife. The trick is to find the spark in those experiences, and translate them with order through a medium. In my work, I elude to an alternative interpretation through that method of presenting order and chaos, not to overwhelm the mind (which misses the point), but to guide it to a higher ground through this visual information.

Penfield has created original works for Totally Gross National Product, Converse, Vice Magazine/Media LLC, the Denver Children's Hospital, Hilton Hotels, MN Vikings LLC, Palladium Boots, and others. He's painted large scale permanent murals addressing the transformation of MN historical rhetoric, has commissioned work hung in permanent collections around the US and has taught painting to students aged 8-18. He has co-created a published 6-book series, step-by-step on "How to Draw" through Abdo Publishing.


2017 – ”Looking In, Looking Through,” neo:gallery23, Manchester UK

2017 – ”Art of Engagement,” Touchstone Gallery, Washington DC

2016 – ”26th Annual Holiday Show,” Abend Gallery, Denver, CO

2016 – ”Love, SooVAC, Celebration of 15 Years of Art,” SooVAC Gallery,

Minneapolis, MN

2016 – ”Art As Politics,” Touchstone Gallery, Washington D.C.

2016 – ”MN Vikings Permanent Collection Unveiling,” U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

2014 – ”The Affordable Art Stroll,” Gallery Mar, Park

2014 – ”Make the Machine Feel Human,” show with Brian David Downs, Soo Local Gallery, MN
2014 – ”3 Person Show, with Michael Belloti and Mark Rivard” Rivard Art Gallery, MN
2014 – ”3 Person Show, with Louis LaPierre and Jason Wasyk” Will Call Gallery, St. Paul, MN

2013 – “Parsons Alumni Exhibition 2013,” Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, NYC

2013 – “The Show That Never Was,” Abend Gallery, Denver, CO
2013 – “Art For Life,” Abend Gallery, Denver, CO
2013 – “Bold New West,” Abend Gallery, Denver, CO
2011 – “Skate Related 2,” XYZ Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
2011 – “Teenage Elixir,” Tarnish and Gold Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
2010 – “EYE Will,” Nicademus Art and Framing, St. Paul, MN
2010 – “MN State Fair Annual Art Exhibition,” St. Paul, MN