Roger Purdue

Roger Purdue

Roger Purdue, life-long Northwesterner, began his interest in art and carving during his youth on Orcas Island. Born in 1938, he lived in relative isolation, surrounded by beaches strewn with cedar logs, and was provided with the time, inspiration, and materials to develop his skills as an artist.  A tolerant mother of Tsimshian heritage provided an environment that fostered his interest in art.

Purdue majored in art at Western Washington University and graduated with a degree in education.  He completed a successful 31-year teaching career in Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island.  With the support and encouragement of his wife, Sara, and children Wilbur and Grace he slipped into retirement to become a practicing artist.

Purdue’s maternal great grandmother, Jennie Gilbert, was Tsimshian, and went to live at the Anglican community at Metlacatla on Annette Island in southeast Alaska.  Her given name was Khalan, and she married a German sea captain, John Viereck. Genealogical work is currently being researched by one of the artist’s cousins, to better place their family history and heritage.

Purdue’s interest in Native American and Canadian Art intensified during many summers spent sailing the coast of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.  He sailed by Annette Island home to his Tsimshian ancestors and experienced their world of nature.

Seeing the artifacts of past master carvers and artisans, in addition to visiting resident contemporary artists and formally studying the elements of Native Art helped Roger to develop his style.

Starting in the 1990s Roger partnered with the Penn Cove Water Festival to execute several large carvings and to create the annual Penn Cove Water Festival Image.  He worked with Carol Peralta (deceased) of CP Prints to silkscreen serigraphs, print T-shirts, and posters.  Roger died in January of 2014.

His large Salmon Wheel can be seen at the Island County Museum and his Penn Cove Water Festival Posters are displayed in the Coupeville Wharf Building.  Thousands of sketches and many previously unprinted designs promise art to come.

Purdue was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2006. He passed away from complications related to the disease in January 2014. His estate is managed by Sara and Grace Purdue.