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Robert Rishell Photo
Robert had a deep respect and love for the Navajo people. He is pictured here with some Navajo jewelry.
Robert Clifford Rishell 1917 -1976
Robert Rishell Guardian
"Guardian" 40 x 30
Robert Rishell The High Trail
"The High Trail" 30 x 40
Robert Rishell Trail of the Giants Midsized Thumbnail
"Trail of the Giants" 30 x 40

Robert Rishell California Desert Scene
California Desert Scene
20 x 30

 "You need dark to show light." 

So said Robert Rishell in an interview with KGO's Bob Avery on March 1, 1969. The occasion was his one-man exhibition at the Desert Southwest Art Gallery in Palm Desert. You may listen to the entire interview in the video below.

Robert Rishell Princess Family Horse
"Princess, Family Horse" pastel 23 x 29
Robert Rishell Mountain Trail Midsized Thumbnail
"Mountain Trail" 11 x 14

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To the left ... a video slide show of some of Robert Rishell's paintings. Bob Avery of KGO Radio interviewed Robert Rishell at the Desert Southwest Art Gallery in Palm Desert on March 1, 1969.

As the interview plays, some of Rishell's paintings are shown.

Robert Clifford Rishell was instrumental in founding the Oakland Museum, and remained active in its support the rest of his life. He was son of an Oakland Mayor, Clifford E. Rishell (Mayor 1949-1961). He was a graduate of the California College of Arts and Crafts, and later a member of the Society of Western Artists.

Robert Rishell's portrait of Gene Autry
Portrait of Cowboy Star, Gene Autry
by Robert Rishell
now on display at the Hall of Great Western Performers,
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

From our newsletter
November, 2013
Robert Rishell Wine Harvest Thumbnail
Murals by Robert Rishell
to be featured in a new Wine
Museum for Santa Rosa
Rishell Robert Ronald Reagan Portrait Mid .jpg
Robert Rishell's 1974 portait of Gov. Ronald Reagan, CA State Capitol Collection
Robert Rishell studied under Xavier Martinez. He was influenced to paint California's deserts by friend and artist Jimmy Swinnerton and became a friend of another desert painter, John W. Hilton.

Robert's notariety as an artist brought him an invitation to become a member of the Bohemian Club. His daughter recalls that Bob really enjoyed the Bohemian campouts, especially enjoying his tent mates, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and novelist Herman Wouk. He did a portrait of Edgar Bergen and his young daughter Candice.

In 1974, Robert was commissioned to paint the official gubernatorial portrait of Ronald Reagan. This portrait is now on display in the California State Capitol Museum. Rishell's paintings show a stark contrast of lightand shadow, and are quite distinctive. His works were included in the collections of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater.

Desert Painters at Ed Ainsworth MemorialThe Royalty of California Desert Painters (Robert Rishell is in the second row right)
This photo was taken in 1968 at the dedication for a memorial for Ed Ainsworth,
a veteran newspaper man and author, a passionate desert advocate and a dear friend of desert artists.
Back Row ... Marco Gomez, Bill Bender, Bob Wagoner, Ernie Morris, Grant Speed, Don Perceval, Burt Procter, Ace Powell, Joe Beeler.
Second Row ... Kirk Martin, John Hampton, Fred Harmon, Gordon Snidow, Nick Firfires, Robert Rishell, Bob Lee.
Third Row ... John W. Hilton, Olaf Wieghorst, Bill Hampton, Jimmy Swinnerton, Katherine Ainsworth, and William Moyers.

Rishell, a WPA Era artist ... In 1937 at the age of 20, Robert Rishell undertook painting this mural as part of the WPA. It portrays the vital role of public works and unions, providing much needed employment during the Great Depression. Artists like Rishell were tasked with creating art meant to communicate that common people working together was how the nation would get through the hard times.
Robert Rishell Progress through Labor

The video below explains where Rishell's mural was originally displayed, and how it was saved and restored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and now resides in the lobby of their offices in Sacramento.

Robert Rishell at age 20 working on Progress through Labor Mural