Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
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Orville Norman Fisher

1911 - July 1999

Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts (Diploma 1933)
Vancouver School of Art Graduates' Association
Offical War Artist, 1st Canadian Field Historical Section
Canadian Society of Graphic Artists
B.C. Society of Artists (Vice-President 1948)

Orville Fisher was one of the early graduates of the Vancouver School of Art, receiving his diploma in 1933, after taking training from Frederick H. Varley and others.

In 1931-32 he won the Vancouver Exhibition Association Scholarship of $50.00, open to "third year drawing and painting students."


1934 student work at BCCA

He completed post-graduate work at the B.C. College of Arts before joining E.J. Hughes and Paul Goranson in an artistic partnership. They completed murals for the Malaspina Hotel in Nanaimo, and for the B.C. Pavilion at the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco.

The Spring 1936 edition of The Smock Pocket, the Vancouver School of Art Graduates' Association newsletter, noted that Fisher and E.J. Hughes "are now working on their second murals for the First United Church. The original ones (size 9' x 30' each), drew much favorable comment. They have also had an exhibition of etchings in the Gallery. The number of sales passed all previous Gallery records."

Fisher joined the Canadian Army as a Sapper in 1940, but was transferred to Ottawa and became an official War Artist. He took part in the Normandy invasion, landing on Mike Beach. His comments on making sketches under fire are noted in Canvas of War. He continued on with the army as far as Nijmegen before returning to England. He returned to the front at Rotterdam, where he was working when the war ended.

His work was in at least two exhibitions immediately after the war in Europe ended. One exhibition, held at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, had the lengthy title of Canadian war artists: water colours and line sketches of scenes during the Canadian Army's advance through Italy, Holland and Germany by official Canadian war artists. The other exhibition had a similar title, was of work done during the advance through France and Belgium, and was held at the Palais des Beaux-arts, at Brussels, Belgium. His rank was Captain at the end of the war.

Exhibitions of war art toured across Canada after the war, but the paintings were then given to the National Gallery, where they remained largely unknown and unseen for 25 years.

Fisher returned to Vancouver, where he worked as a muralist, painter, graphic artist, teacher, and interior decoration designer. He assisted Charles Comfort on a large mural in the Toronto-Dominion Bank on Pender Street at Granville, a mural which remained in situ until early 2003, when the bank vacated the premises. The mural was relocated to the Academic Quadrangle at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. with the official re-dedication of the installation in April 2004 after conservation work on it. Fisher also completed five murals for the lobby of the B.C. Electric Building. He taught at the Vancouver art school, and was Head of the Graphics Department.

A number of his pastels of the construction of the Vancouver Vocational Institute hung in the lobby of the Vancouver Community College for many years.

He also exhibited in the 1949 B.C. Artists at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the BCSFA annual exhibitions in 1937, 1947, and 1950. He designed the exhibition catalogue cover for the 1947 BCSFA show.

He submitted three drypoints to the 1949 B.C. Graphic exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, all three of them were selected for the exhibition.

Exhibitions

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION LOCATION
1947 April 8 - 27 Exhibition by Orville Fisher Vancouver Art Gallery

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION ARTWORK
1936 Feb. 21 - Mar. 5 PASOVAS Annual Group Show (drypoints)
1936 August 11 - 21 VAG   Group Show: Goranson, Hughes, Fisher (?)
1935 Dec. 6 - 15 VAG   Goranson, Hughes, Fisher: Drypoints ?
1936 December 8 - 20 VAG   Goranson, Hughes, Fisher Woodyard - Vancouver
Shepherd Boy
Feeding Time
Waterfront Scene
Shacks on the Waterfront
Crab-Fishing on Burrard Inlet
Ship in B.C. Marine Drydock
On the Road to Gibsons Landing
Working on the Halk (sic?)
1937 April 16 - May 1 BCSFA   27th Annual Coal Harbour, Stanley Park
Ship in B.C. Marine Dry Dock
1937 Dec. 3 - 10 VAG   Goranson, Hughes, Fisher: Prints (?)
1945 July 12 - 26 Canadian War Artists, Amsterdam German Marines vacating their ships
German prisoners surrendering material
The Liberators
German arms dump
Issuing instructions
Victory parade
Refugees
Prisoners entering concentration area at The Hague
Allied ships unloading relief supplies - Rotterdam
Pointing our harbour installations - Rotterdam
River Maas - Rotterdam
1947 May 9 - June 1 BCSFA   37th Annual Water-front Shoreline
1949 July 12 - July 31 VAG   Stanley Park in Pictures Zebra Fish at Aquarium, English Bay
1949 Oct. 8 - 30 VAG   B.C. Artists 18th Annual Shipyard Machine Cuttings
Props
1949 Nov. 22 - Dec. 11 VAG   First B.C. Graphic Egg to Adult
Thrust
Fraser Valley
1950 April 25 - May 14 BCSA   40th Annual Ship in B.C. Marine Dry Dock
War Memories

References

SOUVENIR CATALOGUE OF EXHIBITIONS OPENING THE NEW VANCOUVER ART GALLERY (refer to VAG51)

100 YEARS OF B.C. ART (refer to VAG58)

4th BURNABY NATIONAL PRINT SHOW (refer to BAG67)

THE FINE ARTS IN VANCOUVER, 1886 - 1930 (refer to THOM)

A GUIDE TO SCULPTURE IN VANCOUVER (refer to GSV80)

ARTISTS IN CANADA 1982 - UNION LIST OF ARTISTS' FILES (refer to AIC82)

PRINTMAKING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA 1889-1983 (refer to AGGV83)

VANCOUVER: ART & ARTISTS 1931 - 1983 (refer to VAG83)

MONTREAL MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS -
SPRING EXHIBITIONS 1880 - 1970
(refer to MM88)

A DICTIONARY OF CANADIAN ARTISTS (refer to M)

VANCOUVER ARTIST: Orville Fisher
      1999 September; by Michael Clark, Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design.
      Visions newsletter, Volume 6 Issue 1, page 6.
      One page biography with 3 illustrations of his work & 1 photo of artist.

ART BC, Masterworks From British Columbia by Ian M. Thom
      2000, Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., ISBN 1-55054-808-5
      232 pages illustrated in colour and b&w
      Includes historical essays, biographical notes, index.
      Article on Fisher page 68; one work illustrated "Mending the Nets".

CANVAS OF WAR - Painting the Canadian Experience 1914 to 1945
      2000, by Dean F. Oliver, Laura Brandon; Foreword by J.L. Granatstein
      Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., ISBN 1-55054-772-0
      178 pages illustrated in colour and b&w
      Includes reproductions of Fisher's paintings, biographical information.

BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF ARTISTS IN CANADA (refer to BIAC03)
      7 references cited for Fisher, including M listed above.

A MODERN LIFE: Art and Design in British Columbia 1945-1960 (refer to VAG04)

WATERFRONT by James P. Delgado, Executive Director, Vancouver Maritime Museum
      "The illustrated maritime story of Greater Vancouver"
      Published by Vancouver Maritime Museum and Stanton Atkins & Dosil Publishers
      2005, ISBN 0-9732346-5-2, 186 pages hardcover first edition with dust jacket
      Includes list of sources, index, credits, acknowledgements
      Extensively illustrated in colour and black and white with art and photographs
      Artwork reproduced from Atkins Feckless Collection includes print by Fisher

OUR CHANGING LANDSCAPE (2008) (refer to BAG08)

PUBLIC ART IN VANCOUVER - ANGELS AMONG LIONS (refer to PAV09)

VANCOUVER PUBLIC LIBRARY - B.C. ARTISTS FILES (refer to VPL)

VANCOUVER SCHOOL OF ART - LIST OF GRADUATES & STUDENTS (refer to VSA)

THE FECKLESS COLLECTION (refer to FECK18)

Clippings

"Paul Gorenson (sic), Orville Fisher, James Dickie and Alec Dalgleish are the lucky students who have sold their work."
      From "In The Domain of Art"
      Vancouver Province, February 10 1934

"The three artists, Paul Goranson, Orville Fisher, and Edward Hughes, are young British Columbia men "who are contributing a lively note to the Art of B.C." (continues)"
      From "Art Exhibit in Faculty Room of Library" by (unknown)
      The Ubyssey, February 1936

"... artists invited to join the club for the exhibition include: . . . Orville Fisher . . ."
      From "PASOVAS EXHIBIT - Pioneer Art Students' Show" by (unknown)
      Daily Province, February 21 1936

"Dry-points are shown by E.J. Hughes, Paul Goranson and Orville Fisher, three gifted young men whose recent exhibition in the Art Gallery will be remembered by visitors."
      From "FINE PASOVAS ART EXHIBITION" by (unknown)
      Vancouver Sun (?), February 21 1936

"The twin contributions each of E.J. Hughes, Paul Goranson, and Orville Fisher, in black and white, are exceptional." (continues)
      From "PASOVAS CLUB - Annual Display on View at Art Gallery" by (unknown)
      News-Herald, February 1936

"Orville Fisher, Edward Hughes, and Paul Goranson became known all over Canada through their mural paintings in the First United Church, while their exhibition of Dry Points and Etchings in the Art Gallery last December were widely praised."
      From "GRADUATES IN ART" by Cintra
      (unknown newspaper), April 25, 1936


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