Contemporary landscape painter, Thomas Paquette, explores and paints scenes from the entire length of the Mississippi River, starting at its northern Minnesota source to its outflow at the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting collection of paintings provides a contemporary visual travelogue of this important river. Twenty-two of the paintings are presented here.
Originally planned as a way to celebrate the National Park Service’s centennial in 2016, the project was going to be a series of paintings from the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, the Park Service’s seventy-two-mile corridor of river that runs through Minneapolis and St Paul, but a growing obsession with the river kept Paquette going and an additional two thousand miles of Mississippi made its way across his canvases.
Thomas Paquette has lived in five places along the upper Mississippi River. Born in Minneapolis in 1958, Paquette spent his youth living a mile from the mighty river. He later lived in Bemidji, Red Wing, and Winona in Minnesota, and Edwardsville in Illinois. Even now, the great reach of the river’s drainage touches the land where he lives, near the start of its easternmost tributary, the Allegheny River. For this project, Paquette took several extended trips in different seasons with the aim of seeing and apprehending as much as possible about the Mississippi.
He graduated from Bemidji State University with a B.F.A. degree in painting in 1985, and has painted full-time since 1988, when he earned his M.F.A. degree in painting on full fellowship from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Paquette’s landscape paintings have been exhibited across the United States, and were featured in more than fifty solo exhibitions at prominent art galleries in Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington D.C. Solo museum exhibitions of his work were mounted at Erie Art Museum, Evansville Museum of Art and Science, Georgia Museum of Art, Quick Center for the Arts, The Rockwell Museum, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and Wildling Art Museum.
Commissions include major paintings created for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and the States of Minnesota, Montana, and Maine. He is the recipient of awards and honors including visiting artist residencies at the American Academy in Rome, the Aegean Arts and Cultural Exchange (Greece), three U.S. national parks (Acadia, Yosemite, and Rocky Mountain), Blue Mountain Center, and Miami on a three-year residency-fellowship at the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. His paintings are in numerous public, corporate, and private collections, and he has lectured abroad at universities in England, Wales, and Greece.