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Robert Rishell Guardian
oil on canvas,
40 x 30
Robert Clifford Rishell 1917 -1976
Robert Rishell, The High Trail
The High Trail

oil on canvas, 30 x 40
Robert Rishell, Trail of the Giants
Trail of the Giants
oil on canvas, 30 x 40
Robert Rishell, Fisherman's Day Off, 1951
Fisherman's Day Off

oil on canvas, 30 x 36
Robert Rishell, Princess, Family Horse, 1946
Princess, Family Horse
pastel, 23 x 29
Robert Rishell, California Desert Scene
California Desert Scene, 1951
oil on canvas, 20 x 30
Robert Rishell, Mountain Trail
Mountain Trail
oil on canvas, 11 x 14
From our Oct '22 Newsletter

Oakland's Robert Rishell
& his
Progress through Labor
mural in Sacramento

"You need dark to show light." 

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

Below is a video slide show of some of Robert Rishell's paintings. The Robert Rishell interview from KGO Radio accompanies the slide show.

As the interview plays, some of Rishell's paintings are shown.
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 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 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 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
In 2013, pioneering wine murals
by Robert Rishell
were be featured in a new
Wine Museum in Santa Rosa,
but the museum was never built.
Rishell Robert Ronald Reagan Portrait Mid .jpg
Robert Rishell's 1974 portrait of
Gov. Ronald Reagan,
CA State Capitol Collection

Robert's notoriety as an artist brought him an invitation to become a member of the Bohemian Club. His daughter recalls that Bob really enjoyed the Bohemian camp outs, 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 light and shadow, and are quite distinctive. His works were included in the collections of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater.

Desert Painters at Ed Ainsworth Memorial The 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. Front Row ... John W. Hilton, Olaf Wieghorst, Bill Hampton, Jimmy Swinnerton, Katherine Ainsworth, and William Moyers.

Robert Rishell Progress through Labor Mural, located in the State Building and Construction Trades Offices, Sacramento, California
Robert Rishell, Progress Through Labor Mural, 1937, State Building and Construction Trades Council, Sacramento
Rishell was a WPA Era artist ... In 1937 at the age of 20, Robert Rishell undertook painting Progress Through Labor 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.

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