Zack Pangborn


Zack Pangborn, local artist and proprietor of Volution Gallery on Placerville’s Main Street, has always pursued his own vision. “I knew I wanted to be an artist since I was probably five years old. I somehow didn’t believe people when they said it would be hard,” he laughs. Zack was born and raised in Placerville, but soon after high school he moved to Seattle for art school, then to Santa Barbara to work in a print and framing shop. He began selling prints of his own work on the sidewalk outside Macy’s; before long he was making enough money as an artist to quit his day job.


As he forged a career for himself in the arts, Zack stayed true to his own vision. “My brain is very non-commercial,” he explains. “For a long time, I wouldn’t draw for other people or take commissions.” Sometimes, he acknowledges wryly, he was independent to a fault: in art school, he initially dismissed some of the guidelines that he was learning, such as balancing a composition into 3rds. “But I still use that to this day,” he reflects. “I guess there’s something to it… Of course, you can still break those rules.” Zack’s work flows from a unique way of seeing the world, blending elements from the natural world with otherworldly imagery. “I find inspiration in nature and all the patterns that you can see at various scales—macro, micro, and just ‘cro’. Then I infuse it with my love of science fiction and fantasy, giving it a new personality.”


In 2009, Zack opened the first incarnation of Volution Gallery in Sacramento. “Volution” is a word that refers to a single turn of a spiral. The concept is reflected in the gallery’s logo, a truncated spiral. The ethos also resonates in Zack’s life. “I like going in a circle, but not ending up in the same spot. That’s what life is—doing the same thing that people have been doing for thousands of years, but slightly different.” When Zack moved back home to Placerville with his family, he himself did the same thing but slightly different, opening the second and third iterations of Volution Gallery on Main Street. The current space is much larger than the one in Sacramento, allowing for events like shows, workshops, and figure drawing, which Zack hopes to do more of in the future.


Volution Gallery sells work from a variety of local artists, including Zack’s wife, Rebecca Roehr, whose burgeoning artistic practice was an impetus behind the move to a larger gallery space. “Rebecca started doing art, and her art actually sold,” he laughs. “With both of us doing art, the other location was just too small. And I always wanted to show other people’s art—the idea was to have prints in a record table, so you can flip through them like vinyl.” At Volution Gallery, the record tables hold a sort of compilation album of regional work, showcasing artists from Placerville to Pollock Pines to Auburn.


Zack isn’t much different as a curator than he is as an artist: he selects artists for the Gallery on the basis of his own affinity for their work, not their ability to sell prints. Still, Zack recognizes the importance of an audience. In Placerville, the audience benefits from access to a gallery of Volution’s caliber and the innovative work that it champions, while Volution’s artists benefit from exposure to an audience of local art lovers.


Zack knows that questions of audience and community are intertwined. While he has long connected artists to the community, he wants to do more to connect the community to the arts. To that end, he plans to open a “community section” in the Gallery, which will have a special emphasis on the young artists who are learning, as Zack once did, to pursue their own vision. “I’m excited to get more people in here,” he says. “Maybe it can give someone their start.”


Volution Gallery is located at 452 Main Street in Placerville. Learn more at