Richard Van Wagoner was born in Midway, Utah in 1932. He was a painter known for photo-realist paintings, in various media, of the western urban landscapes of freeways with cars, trucks, and other vehicles; and later evolving into to allegorical explorations.
Van Wagoner attended Weber State University and later earned a BA from the University of Utah in 1954. After teaching in local high schools for several years, Van Wagoner earned an MFA from Utah State University in 1958. He earned another MFA from the University of Utah in 1974 where Douglas Snow, Alvin Gittins, and Tony Smith were his mentors. In 1959 Van Wagoner took a position as professor of visual art at Weber College where he remained until his retirement. Van Wagoner served as Chair of the Visual Arts Program three times during his tenure.