Walt Padgett was born in North Carolina, grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, studied architecture at Clemson University, S. C., then pursued fine arts studies at Florida State University, earning Bachelors, and Masters, of Fine Arts degrees in the field of sculpture. He taught art for a junior high school in Florida, and then taught on the faculty of Florida A & M University, before moving to the West coast. In 1971 he was hired into the opening faculty of a new institution in Southern Oregon, Rogue Community College, for which he was the Art Department Chairman for twelve years, and taught fine art for over thirty years, assisting in the development of the Art Department as it grew in both Josephine and Jackson Counties. Now retired from full-time employment, he continues to enjoy teaching workshops for community colleges, universities, and art centers.
Throughout his teaching career, proficient in teaching a wide range of art disciplines, he has continued to produce and exhibit his own work in sculpture, painting, and increasingly, work in the field of printmaking. In 1983/’84 he made a bold move by taking a sabbatical-based leave of absence, to pursue studies in Japanese woodblock printmaking, including training, and travel in Japan. During this time, the decision to make an adventurous two-month bicycle trip across Japan, documenting the historic Tokaido (highway), and the associated woodblock prints of Hiroshige and Sekino, the famous “53 Stations of the Tokaido”, became a pivotal point in his artistic career. To this day, Mr. Padgett continues to produce prints inspired by this travel, augmented by further research and travel in Japan.
In 2004, Padgett was selected to teach Oregon community college students for a term in London, England, through the International Studies Consortium of Oregon Community Colleges. Through extended travel, he painted watercolors in Scotland, France, and Italy. Over the next ten years, he made additional painting trips to Hawaii, Italy, and visited Japan twice, investigating imagery along the second most famous ancient highway, the Kisokaido, and of various important historic sites, Nikko, Obuse, Omachi, walking for the first time on the lesser known ancient path, the “Salt Road”. As can be seen in many examples, in each of his chosen media, the adventures of travel have energized his work.
During his impressive career, Mr. Padgett has received many awards for his artwork, works in painting, sculpture and printmaking. Although not known as a photographer, he has consistently relied on the camera to record his experiences, to explore imagery and composition, such that, not surprisingly, he is now also exhibiting selections from this vast collection. He is truly a Pacific Rim artist, prolific in many media, inspired by the landscapes and cultures of both sides of the Pacific Ocean, and in a broader sense his work distils influences from cultures of the West and the East.
In September of 2008, he was awarded the Takanabe Town Mayor’s Prize for a woodblock print exhibited at the Takanabe Museum (Kyushu, Japan); the piece was part of a traveling exhibition of prints from the prestigious Kyoto International Woodprint Association’s permanent collection of prints from around the world. Museums, universities and colleges, institutions, corporations, and private collectors, have acquired Mr. Padgett’s work. As an artist, he is becoming widely recognized for his quality of vision, and versatility in both style and skill.