Rankin grew up in Montana and received an MFA at the University of Montana. He did postgraduate work at Montana State University, studying primarily printmaking, painting and sculpture. His career as an art teacher and professor began in Alaska in 1964, with one of his notable students being artist Wes Mills. Since 1985, he has devoted his life to painting full-time. He began exhibiting at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington in the late 1950s and is included in the permanent collections of Viterbo College in LaCrosse, Wisconsin; Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Montana; the Pritchard Gallery in Moscow, Idaho; and the Missoula Art Museum in Missoula, Montana.
Rankin’s eclecticism marries a selection of energized forms and colors to create an image of the West at once regional and universal, which Rankin describes as a “connective thread tying me to the West – or to the world.” Highly conceptual, Rankin’s work is related to music-metaphorically rhythmic, exploring the pause which exists between colors or forms and relies on repeated themes and images.
In the 1980s, Rankin was featured in a touring exhibition across the Szechuan Province in China and has been the recipient of Museum and Art Gallery Directors Association Traveling Arts Grants in 1995 and 2000, the latter of which hosted a touring retrospective of his work. A partial assemblage of Rankin’s exhibitions can be seen below.
- Installation US 93 was picked up by MAGDA in 1986 as a tri-state traveling show.
- The second installation was also selected by MAGDA: Palace Hotel (1992) and toured to larger Montana galleries. The video was recorded by Freeman Butts in 1992 at the Holter Museum in Helena, MT.
- Publication: “Combining the Etching Collagraph Process, an Experiment” 1972, University of Montana
- University of Montana Exchange program; 2 drawings, Sechuan Province, 1976
- Montana Sketchbook, (2 drawings) Montana Institute of the Arts, 1989
- Artists Speak, a Primer for Understanding Contemporary Art, Suzanne Donnelly, Montana Cultural Trust, 1990
- First place: Sculpture Invitational, Paris Gibson Square, 1978 (Judge, Robert Head, Dept of Art, Murray State, Kentucky)
- Northern Rockies, New Visions: Fourteen regional artists (Yellowstone Art Center, 1994)
- Retrospective, University of Montana, 1996
- Jerry Rankin: Recent Works, Missoula Art Museum 2002
- Three Exhibits, Aunt Dofe’s Hall of Recent Memory, Willow Creek Mt (2006,2009, and 2015)
- Curator, Pershing Hall Gallery, Northern Mt. State College, 1982-83
- Performance Viterbo college, La Crosse, WI, 1989
- Visiting Artist in Residence, Viterbo College, La Crosse, WI, 1995
- From the Inside Out – Seven charcoal drawings at the Missoula Art Museum, MT. May 10, 2017
- The Lela Autio Collection, Missoula Art Museum, May 10, 2017
- Aunt Dofe’s Gallery, Whitehall, MT. September 2022
- Paris Gibson Squre, Great Falls, MT
- Missoula Museum of Art, Missoula, MT
- Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
- Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, MT
- Yellowstone Art Center, Billings, MT
- Viterbo College, La Crosse, WI
- Pritchard Museum, Moscow, ID
- Meadowlark Foundation, Billings, MT
- Paul and Judith Larsen, Bainbidge Island, WA
- Mary and James Ferolo, Dixon, IL