Joe Mangrum’s sand paintings and multiple medium installations explore issues of the urban grid, environmentalism and its effects on the collective psyche. He has created a series of over a thousand intricate sand paintings in public and private spaces as well as a body of permanent sand paintings on canvas and carved wood. He has also created large scale, multi-material installations in large spaces. His work is inspired by ancient traditions and synced up with a rhythm of urban free-style animation, combined with bright “Pop Art” colors. His paintings are influenced by an abundant world of undersea creatures, botanicals and diverse forms of cross-cultural metaphors with a mash up of personal symbols. His technique with sand employs a graffiti like parallel of close to the ground sharp lines to a wide “spray” from higher up of diffused effects in alternating layers. Mangrum is based in New York City and has traveled with his work internationally.
He kicked off 2018 with a commission by Prabal Gurung for the Spring Fashion Week runway in New York. His work was featured at the Museum of Arts and Design as part of the “Swept Away” exhibit, completing an indoor project “Asynchronous Syntropy” as well as circumambulating the entire museum for a marathon 24 hrs in two days. He participated in The Flag Art Foundation’s “Watch Your Step” exhibit and has installed at The Corcoran Gallery Rotunda in Washington D.C. Mangrum has held residencies at the de Young Museum, San Francisco, at the Ashe Cultural Center, New Orleans and The Red Gate Gallery, Beijing, where he was featured in the inaugural exhibit of the Sunshine Museum. He received the prestigious Lorenzo de Medici Award at the Florence Biennale in 2003, for his piece titled “Fragile”. Mangrum’s works have been commissioned by private collectors, The Asia Society, Prabal Gurung, Jen Kao and many others. In addition, he has received commissions from the City of San Francisco, including a permanent public artwork on the sidewalk of the Mission District. Other commissions include Coachella Music and Arts and other festivals. He has created a series of sand paintings in Miami during Art Fairs at Project Miami, Multitudes Gallery and Miami Art Space.
Mangrum grew up Florissant, Missouri and later earned his degree in Fine Arts at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Working primarily as a painter, Mangrum embarked on years of travel inspired by natural wonders and indigenous sites of North America. He continued to travel internationally, making his own connections to cultural patterns. During this time, he began using plants and flowers that he collected to make ephemeral artworks. In 1995, he made San Francisco his home until 2008 and expanded his ephemeral works to include auto parts, technology and varieties of found and fabricated artifacts, presenting his first solo installation at San Francisco State University. His large scale installations continue in such manifestations inspired by mushroom clouds, pyramid shapes and the Ouroboros.
Mangrum has also worked with educational programs, given artists presentations and panel discussions at School of Visual Arts, Adelphi University and SUNY Geneseo. He has demonstrated his work with students at The United Nations International School, The de Young Museum of San Francisco, Eleanor Roosevelt High School in New York and Moton Elementary in New Orleans. He is an active supporter of environmental causes and has contributed efforts to Love For Japan, Riverkeeper Alliance, Natural World Museum, World Environment Day and Copenhagen 15. He has been featured on Sesame Street, and interviewed for the PBS program “Spark” on KQED. His work has been displayed in various publications including Antennae Journal in the UK. He has been featured on CNN, The New York Times, New York Daily News, LA Times, Artbusiness.com, Yahoo News and numerous blogs. In 2017 Joe was featured by the Emmy nominated online series Humans of New York (HONY). His sand covered hands share the cover of HONY’s NY times best seller by the same name.