Ernest Ochsner was born Jan. 28, 1944, next to the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in the small farm community of Isabel, S.D. His parents were Russian/German immigrants who fled the Ukraine to avoid conscription (his mother’s parents) and the Russian Revolution of 1916 (his father). Ernest is the youngest of four children. In 1946, his parents left the farm and moved to Sutton, Neb. Then in 1956, they moved to Lincoln, Neb.
Ernest spent his childhood on the banks of School Creek in Sutton and along the Big Blue and Platte Rivers nearby. The natural and agricultural environment left deep marks on his spirit.
In 1974, Ernest, his wife Lynda, and their daughter Elizabeth moved from Omaha, Neb., to Aurora, Neb., where Lynda teaches fourth grade. Elizabeth, who is now grown and married, lives in Germany. Ernest, a self-educated painter, works out of his home studio in Aurora.
“Capturing with words, the nature and significance of what I do as an artist, is an unsettling exercise since words fix thoughts in time and can return to haunt you later in life. My work has evolved as have my perceptions of reality and the role of the artist in society. The abstract and expressionistic experiments of the 1960s and ’70s have slowly, at times painfully, given way to my present interest in landscape painting. Everything I do is grounded in the past experiments but not restricted by them. The nature of my work has always been reflective of my search for meaning and purpose, a spiritual quest. The significance then of my art is connected to its ability to be successful both as a catalyst and signpost in this search.
There is an endless variety of possibilities, metaphors and wisdoms inherent in the natural and agricultural landscapes around us. The abstract and the concrete mingle in a constant interplay of light, color, line and form, generating and endless source of images, ideas and meanings. Here I’m able to seek endlessly, without weariness or repetition, and ask for no more.”