Ernie Lamar Sandidge JrErnie Sandidge was born in John Gaston Memorial Charity Hospital in Memphis Tennessee, 1966. He lost a twin brother, Lamar, at birth but retains the memory in his name. A child of divorce, he was raised in the mountains of East Tennessee by his single mother Rochelle. An early hunting accident redirected Ernie’s youthful enthusiasms towards classical ballet. Because ballet is generally frowned upon in the mountains of East Tennessee, Ernie was quickly shuffled off to boarding school in Minnesota, where he began his studies at the Minneapolis Children’s Theater. ( Ernie's mother, Rochelle, disagrees with the notion that Ernie was "shuffled off". She wishes the reader to know that young Ernie begged to go to boarding school.) Sadly, Ernie soon discovered that he had no aptitude for dance but he did discover a love for drawing and painting.
After a brief flirtation with circus-performing, studying with Phillipe Gaulier in Paris, Ernie was then deported and decided to move to Mexico. But not before conceiving a daughter, perhaps the future's one true treasure and certainly the brightest, most talented child who ever lived. In Mexico, he enrolled at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in San Miguel de Allende, studying with Arturo Elizondo and Antonio Lopez. Finding himself down and out in a foreign land, an organic farmer brought Ernie back to his heirloom potato farm in Illinois. He soon discovered that he had no aptitude for farming and was accepted to the Art Institute of Chicago. Studying with Dan Gustin and Susanna Coffey he received his B.F.A.in 1992.
Refusing to accept the loss of his then girlfriend, Ernie followed her to New York City where, despite its betrayals and cold indifference, he received his Graduate Certificate from the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture in 1996. His professors there included Mercedes Matter, Esteban Vincente, Graham Nickson, Joe Santore and the ghost of Leland Bell.
Since the completion of his training, he has drifted from place to place, winning prizes and exhibiting his paintings. Notable awards include the James Amster Memorial Award from the National Arts Club, first prize from North Carolina State University’s National Arts Competition, a three year residency granted by the Art Center of South Florida, a residency at the Armory Art Center and the Richard E. Grant distinguished award of excellence. He is the co-founder of the Governors Island Art Fair.
Currently dividing his time between New York and Tennessee, Ernie has lived and worked throughout the U.S., Europe, and Mexico. His newest daughter, a bilingual Swiss-American prodigy has accelerated the wear and tear on his figure as well as preventing many good night's rest. Between the painting and the family obligations Ernie also ravages his health by working as a Scenic Artist for luminaries such as Scorsese, Soderbergh, Aronofsky and Julie Taymor. Ernie devotes much of his remaining time to alternate side of the street parking.