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Stephen Mangum

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Birth year

Lives in
San Francisco


San Francisco Art Institute, 2016, BFA


Born in Greenwood, Mississippi, I studied with Lenny Wacht, a German immigrant who taught art fundamentals in a church basement.  After my family moved to Helena, Arkansas in 1969, I shared a studio and studied with the American master DeWitt Jordan.  In 1973, I turned to the literary arts at Washington & Lee University and then a year later abandoned the arts altogether for a degree in accounting.  Forty years later and after a career in retail, I came home to painting.  I am now making art in San Francisco, California, where I am working towards a BFA in Painting at the San Francisco Art Institute.

To me, painting is akin to writing a book - I want my art to tell a story.  Since I returned to painting several years ago, I have focused solely on painting people.  While there are many beautiful objects and places to look at and perhaps capture on canvas, I find nothing more interesting and complicated than the human face.  Even the photographs I shoot when traveling are of people, not the land. I believe it is the people that make a place.  Culture is not a structure or nature.​ ​

One of the more intriguing qualities we have as human beings is our ability to have diverse feelings. We exhibit a broad range of emotions, revealed through facial expressions, subtle nuances at the corners of the mouth, the set of the eyes, the elevation of the chin.  As a figurative artist, the challenge of capturing the emotional essence of a subject is to me more important than likeness, for this gives dimension to the person, a measure of humanness.  ​​ ​

My art is about people.  

1st 2015 Showcase Entry


Stephen Mangum Steve, shaving

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