Patrick DesJarlait (Whose Indian Name is "NAGABO") which means Boy of the woods was born in Red Lake, Minnesota in 1921. At age 5, Patrick was known to always have a pencil in hand. He would sketch the people and daily lives of the Red Lake people. In the 1930's, during his formative school years. Patrick attended St. Mary's Mission and began doing paintings with materials from the nuns at the mission, who recognized his talents. Upon graduation at the Red Lake High School in 1938, Patrick proceeded to the Pipestone boarding school in Pipestone, MN. (1939) In 1940, Patrick attended the university of Arizona at Phoenix, AZ.
In 1941, with the outbreak of WWII. Patrick enlisted in the navy. In his first year of service, Patrick was stationed in the desert outreaches of Poston, AZ. He was serving as an Art Instructor in a Japanese interment camp. During his last three years of service, Patrick was stationed at the U.S. Naval Academy in San Diego, CA. Utilizing his artistic talent, Patrick was assigned creating animated training films for the Navy. In the summer of 1945, Patrick has a one man art show while still in San Diego where every piece of his art was sold. Patrick was honorably discharge from the Navy at the end of 1945.
In 1946, now married and starting a family, Patrick painted a trio of paintings titled "The Red Lake Fishermen", "Making Wild Rice", and "Maple Sugartime". These paintings were entered into the 1947 Indian Arts Exhibition at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, OK. "Red Lake Fishermen" was not for sale and the other two won special purchase awards and placed into their permanent collection at the Philbrook Museum.
In the last 1940's, Patrick was now living in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. He began his commercial art career. During this time Patrick was employed by a number of Advertising giants including Campbell-Mithun and Brown & Bigelow. Patrick's major accomplishments at this time was being recognized as the creator of the Land O Lakes "Indian Maiden" and The "Hamm's Bear" of Ham's Brewery.
In 1961, Patrick decided to pursue his life long dream of being a full time professional painter. Throughout the 1960's and into the early 1970's, Patrick commitment to his craft which resulted in an unprecedented run of success and accomplishments not seen before. During this time Patrick's paintings either placed first in the watercolor division, best of show, special purchase awards in every exhibition he entered. During the 1968 Minnesota State Fair, Patrick received a 1st place Blue Ribbon.
From the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, OK, to the Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ, to All-American Indian Days in Sheridan, WY, to exhibitions in Washington D.C. and back to Patrick's home state of Minnesota. Patrick created and left a legacy
The majority of his paintings are now in the collections of Museums, Private collections, and Major Business Entities such as U.S. Department of Interior, Minnesota Historical society and General Mills (The fame cereal maker, which purchased the "Wild Rice Harvest" and is in its permanent collection at its headquarters in Golden Valley, MN.)
During the 1970's, Patrick's success continued. He was pursuing another dream of his which was to teach and relay his experiences not only as an artist but a Native American person. He was sought out by a number of educational programs, from the elementary level to the college level. Too busy to enter exhibitions, Patrick was now a commission painter, which meant being hired for works of Art. Essentially , they were sold as fast as he completed them.
In 1971, Patrick fell ill and was diagnosed with Cancer. Given one year to live, Patrick continued painting for as long as he could. His final painting "Mother with Papoose" was commissioned by the Heard Museum was about 85% complete when Patrick could no longer finish it. Regardless, the painting was still purchased and is the only know Native American painting bought unfinished. Sadly, Patrick passed around in November of 1972. He was buried with his favorite paintbrush.
The American Indian Center in Minneapolis, MN was dedicated in the memory of Patrick in 1975 for his commitment and dedication to the Native American people of Minnesota.
In 1992, twenty years after his death. Patrick's legacy was resurrected as the Heard Museum used Patrick's painting "Gathering Wild Rice" for their cover art in an exhibition catalogue. This three year traveling exhibition went to several prominent locations in the United States, including internationally in Canada and New Zealand. The critically acclaimed exhibition sparked a renewed interest in Patrick's career.
In 1994, The Patrick DesJarlait family in conjunction with the Minnesota Museum of American Art staged a retrospective of Patrick's career in St. Paul, MN. During the same year, Learner Publications of Minneapolis reprinted a revised version of Patrick's autobiography originally published in 1972 shortly before his death.
The Patrick DesJarlait family is forever proud of their father's career and offer sincere appreciation and gratitude to all those who assisted Patrick on his life Journey.