Frank LaPena

Photo of Frank LaPena standing in front of art gallery wall.

Frank LaPena
1937 - 2019

Frank LaPena, beloved teacher and a professor of art and former director of Native American Studies at California State University, Sacramento, passed away recently.

Frank was a Nomtipom Wintu American Indian. He was born in San Francisco in 1937 and attended federal Indian boarding school in Stewart, Nevada. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Chico State in 1965 and a Master of Arts in Anthropology at Sac State in 1978.

Frank’s paintings, sculpture, and poetry reflect a deep understanding and love of his native heritage. He exhibited in numerous one-man and group shows across the United States, Europe, Central and South America, Cuba, Australia and New Zealand. He was a consultant to many museums in North America, including the de Young Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian. He was a founding member of the Maidu Dancers and Traditionalists, dedicated to the revival and preservation of Native arts. Frank also published several volumes of poetry and wrote a report on contemporary California art activities for News from Native California.

Frank LaPena’s papers are housed in the Gerth Special Collections and University Archives.

Frank is deeply missed.