Latest art convocation showcased career of Colorado photographer Robert Bishop

studenst and community members look at art hung in the gallery
At Western, art convocations do more than just update the community on what is going on within the department. They also provide students with an opportunity to meet and learn about the Quigley Gallery’s rotating featured artist.

On October 20, students had the opportunity to learn about the life of this month’s featured artist, photographer Robert Bishop.

The gallery currently holds a collection of Bishop’s Colorado work that spans decades. This is the first time many of the images have been printed to hang on a gallery wall. 

Bishop is one of the first photographers to start printing color postcards and has made a career out of postcard photography.  His works capture the beauty behind the Colorado seasons as well as changes in city architecture and evolving mountain towns like Vail and Aspen.

The convocation included a talk by Mark Johnstone, who worked closely with Western professor Jack Lucido to create the film, “Wish You Were Here,” a documentary on Bishop’s career.

Johnstone estimated Bishop made and sold more than 25 million postcards over his 50 to 55 year-long career.

“It was easy for him to sell these cards because people wanted to send a card back home that reflected what they are seeing,” filmmaker Mark Johnstone said.

At the convocation, Johnstone discussed Bishop’s long career, which began at a summer camp in 1935 when Bishop was just 14. The photographer’s father used to send him to camps all over the continent, and Bishop always carried his camera with him. At the end of the summers, Bishop would develop his photos in his grandmother’s darkroom and put together albums.

Bishop’s talent was quickly recognized by many. In 1936, just one year after he started printing pictures, he was hired to photograph the Calgary Stampede rodeo. His career gradually progressed in the following years. He went on to be featured in magazines such as “Life” and “Look,” and rubbed shoulders with many great photographers, including Ansel Adams.

Another career step came in 1951, when Bishop began making postcards of Aspen and the area's growing ski resort.

“He tried to capture the town and how it was changing in all its facets,” Johnstone said.

Bishop’s popularity with the Colorado ski community continued to rise. He became the official photographer for several resorts, including Aspen, Snowmass and Crested Butte.

A few of Bishop’s photos from the resorts hang in the Quigley Gallery alongside others depicting scenes from across the state. Johnstone and Lucido’s film, “Wish You Were Here” is also shown in the gallery. The exhibition runs through October 28.

Article and photos by Roberta Marquette-Strain

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Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 8:30am