Gallery Pays Tribute to Alumna Artist

Jun 20, 2006

Humboldt State University's First Street Gallery's newest exhibition, Ingrid Nickelsen: A Life's Work, will be on display July 1 through August 13, 2006

This collection is a posthumous retrospective celebrating the work of Ingrid Nickelsen, a 1984 HSU alumna and noted North Coast landscape painter.

A truly intrepid spirit, Ingrid Nickelsen was drawn to painting on locations that she chose for their spiritual or geological complexities. She would often go away for weeks at a time to commune with nature and paint the spirit of the landscape as she saw it.

As a modernist painter, Nickelsen was not bound by traditional theories of form, texture, color or space. While her paintings had the appearance of natural forms, it was not a photographic likeness that Nickelsen sought. Instead, she was interested in painting the “allusion” of the natural subject, highlighting that specific location’s intrinsic qualities rather than its external appearance.

While living in New York City in the mid-1960s, Nickelsen decided to pursue her interest in ceramics and wound up at Humboldt State University. But once arthritis set in and Nickelsen was unable to continue working in clay, she returned to Humboldt State in 1981 and took her first painting class.

On August 1, 2005, while on a solo painting adventure in the Siskiyou Mountains, Nickelsen fell, shattering her ankle and throwing out both hips. She was unable to make it back to her truck for help. Having only her California State Parks map to write on, Nickelsen drafted a handwritten will in which she generously remembered many in her community, including Humboldt State University’s First Street Gallery. She died on location.

A reception in honor of the artist will be held at HSU First Street Gallery on Saturday, July 1, from 6 to 9 p.m.

The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and is located at 422 First Street, Eureka, California. Admission is free and those planning group tours are encouraged to call ahead at 707/826-3424.

The North Coast’s community-wide celebration of Ingrid Nickelsen’s life and art will continue with an exhibition opening on August 5 at the Morris Graves Museum in Eureka, California. For further details, call 707/442-0278 or visit the museum on-line at