Dominic Pangborn’s artwork is always changing and he’s fearless in his approach, which is never the same twice. Pangborn credits his unique childhood for the constant evolution in his creative life.
He was born in Korea in 1952 – a product of the Korean War. He’s the son of an unknown American G.I. and a poor Korean villager who was left on her own in the devastated post-war country to raise Dominic and his two full-Korean siblings. Knowing that her mixed-race son would likely encounter prejudice and limited opportunity, she sent him to the United States where he was adopted by the Pangborn family of Jackson, Mich. He was 10 years old.
Language and culture barriers at first were formidable for Dominic. However, he believes those same barriers ultimately led him to art. At an early age, he found that art allowed him to express himself to the fullest without the need for words. He bought his first set of paint and boards at 12, and he very quickly grasped the medium. In no time, he sold his first painting – for $145 – to his father’s colleague. At that moment, his art career was born.
Dominic enrolled in the Chicago Academy of Art. With a goal of financial security, he majored in graphic design. Within a year of starting his first apprenticeship at Ed Jasper Studio, the young Dominic was promoted to chief designer.
In 1978, Dominic and his wife Delia moved from Chicago to Detroit. He set up his graphic design studio in its heart, immersed himself in the culture and politics of his new home, and seized opportunities to make a difference in the economically challenged city. Very quickly, his designs soared in popularity, and he began speaking at various industry conferences nationwide. Dominic opened Pangborn Design studio branches in Chicago, New York and Tokyo.
View the Park West collection of artwork from Pangborn’s retrospective exhibit at Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History.
At the start of the new millennium, Dominic continued to evolve returning to a concentration on fine art. As he took that step into the artistic river, it differed greatly from the course of his youth. He began to revolutionize his work by experimenting with new mediums – often combining them to create completely new kinds of artwork. His first all fine art show was in 2007, and it completely sold out. It was then that the next phase of the artist’s dynamic career was born. Today, his works of art are collected worldwide.
- Born in Korea in 1952 to a single mother and a family of predominantly women. At four years old, Dominic saw his first Korean bride – the most beautiful thing he had ever seen – and it affected his art and inspirations for the rest of his life. With so many feminine influences, women have become a major theme in his work.
- Believes that art should reflect a current mood, expression, and point in time. Pangborn’s works grow and change in style, medium and subject matter based on that particular period of his life.
- His heritage is intrinsic to his work striking a fine balance of eastern and western culture, philosophy and outlook. He never knows what he’ll create until it’s done.
- Maintains cutting-edge techniques with spontaneity and by absorbing his surroundings. Environmental influences spark new ideas and themes in his work.
- Red has found its way into the majority of his works. After a collector observed that red must be his favorite color – since it was in all his paintings – he decided to consciously focus on red, making it one of his most predominant themes.
- Readers followed his red shoes across the globe to many famous international landmarks in his children’s book Follow Me.
- Received his formal education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and started his art career in Chicago before moving to Detroit in 1975.
- Attended the Illustrators Workshop at Syracuse University in Terrytown, New York, and the executive program at Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.
- Former professor at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies (CCS) and awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Marygrove College in Detroit.
- Career spans graphic design and fashion design, and he has a never-ending passion for fine art. Pangborn’s critically acclaimed fine art has been published in Playboy and exhibited at museums across the country, including the Detroit Institute of Arts.
- His work is in private collections worldwide.
- Established the fashion label the Pangborn Design Collection. Upscale retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and many exclusive boutiques, have carried his label.
- Incorporates art into fashion, home décor and other media including giclée, lithographs and serigraphs.
- Has opened retail stores bearing his name in metropolitan Detroit and St. Thomas US Virgin Islands.
- 60 pieces of his fine art are included in a retrospective exhibition of his work “Evolution of Art & Design Through Revolution” at the Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, Mich., June 11-Oct 11, 2014.
- Serves on a variety of boards for charities and nonprofit organizations. He travels extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. As a Korean adoptee brought to America, he reflects on the opportunities presented to him and in turn, passionately gives of his time, talent and heart.