John Billmyer (1912–2001, American)
oil on board
28 x 36 inches
Denver native John E. Billmyer graduated from South High School in 1930. Planning to be an architect following graduation, he augmented his engineering background with courses in drafting, design and aesthetics at the University of Denver (DU) School of Art run by Vance Kirkland. At school he met his future wife, artist Mina Conant. With the encouragement of Kirkland, who had studied at the Cleveland School of Art and Case Western Reserve, Billmyer and Conant moved to Cleveland in 1933 so that he could attend architecture school. In 1934 he gave up his plans to become an architect, going on to earn a BA in education (1935) from the Case Western Reserve School of Education and his MA two years later from the Cleveland Institute of Art. He married Conant in Cleveland shortly after their arrival and had three daughters. The family returned to Denver in 1946 and he became assistant professor of art and art history in the School of Art under Vance Kirkland at DU, from which he retired in 1977. An accomplished ceramist and painter, Billmyer taught ceramics and printmaking, art history and art education and was also recognized for his expertise in medieval European art and architecture. Billmyer and Conant were founding members of the 15 Colorado Artists, a modernist group that broke from the Denver Artists Guild in 1948. He exhibited his work with the American Craftsmen’s Council, in group shows at the Denver Art Museum and jointly with his wife at local art galleries. He served as a trustee of the Denver Art Museum (1962-1977) and was active in the Colorado Chapter of the Artists Equity Association of which he was president from 1973 to 1977. Following his retirement, they relocated to Tucson, Arizona, where he served as a trustee of the Tucson Museum of Art from 1986 to 1989.
Not currently on view
Signed "Billmyer" lower right corner; also signed "John Billmyer" upper left verso
Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art