The following biographical information has been provided by Ron Kop, art collector, writer, and friend of the artist.
William Richard Doherty (b.1928 -)
William Richard Doherty’s subjects generally depict the American west, often exploring the inevitable conflicts and contrasts of the changing times: the encroachment of fences, machines, and urban sprawl. He works in a realistic manner presenting his subjects as he sees them, relying on the inherent ruggedness and beauty of the landscape and the wide-open spaces, allowing his subjects to speak for themselves without being romanticized or exaggerated. It was Doherty’s love of the outdoors, working cattle, hunting, camping, and the wonder of the natural world itself that ultimately became the major theme of his experience and expression.
Although he’s known throughout Western Colorado as a muralist, illustrator, print maker, and the creator of pen and ink and colored pencil drawings, the majority of Doherty’s work can be found in his oils, watercolors, pastels and miniatures.
W.R. Doherty was born in New York City in 1928, started drawing before he began school, and was painting in oils at the age of 15. He left home at 16, traveled upstate and worked as a farm hand on a dairy farm. As he grew older he worked at various jobs and did a stint in the Army as a medic. He later finished his high school requirements, and then went on to study animal husbandry at a state agricultural college before returning to work as a dairyman. In the early 1950s he decided to travel west to learn the skills of a cowboy, spending several years working on different cattle ranches in Wyoming, North Dakota and Colorado.
During his wanderings, Doherty drew and painted what he was doing and seeing – the work and lifestyle of a western rancher and cowpuncher. Throughout his travels Doherty recorded on canvas and paper the life he loves from the interplay of his experience, memories and imagination.
While working on a ranch in Norwood, CO, an opportunity for developing his talent opened up, and the small community hired him as the school’s art teacher. This change in paths led to a return to college where he eventually received a master’s degree in art, allowing him to pursue a full-time teaching career.
In 1969, he accepted a teaching position at Delta High School where he taught art until he retired in 1988. Throughout his teaching years Doherty sought his own creative exploits through public and private commissions, exhibits and sales.
A few of the special projects Doherty has accomplished includes designing the City of Delta’s 1976 Bicentennial Time Capsule monument; designed the 1982 Delta Commemorative coin; illustrated a book about Delta titled The First 100 Years, written by D.V. Doherty; and also painted the city’s first mural in1987, Delta County Ark, a 16-foot by 70-foot depiction of local wildlife. Several additional murals followed throughout Delta County as well as a number of other Western Colorado cities and towns. In addition, Doherty completed two books of drawings titled Pen and Ink Thru Fort Uncompahgre, and Pen and Ink Thru The San Miguel Basin. He also illustrated a book of western poetry in 1993, written by Gene Johenning of Garden City, NY.
From time to time Doherty’s pen and inks could found in local newspapers illustrating court proceedings of various criminal trials. In the early 1970s, Doherty was instrumental in forming the Delta Fine Arts organization, a group whose purpose is to bring together local artists to educate the public and exhibit their work.
In 1971, Doherty entered and won an award for a painting he submitted in the Ninth Annual Benedictine Art Awards, a competition inspired by the art collection on permanent display at the Benedictine Abbey in Fecamp, France. His painting remained on exhibit in New York City at the gallery of the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank on Madison Avenue for several weeks.
His many awards and one-man shows are too numerous to mention, but Doherty’s work at various times could be found throughout Western Colorado galleries, including: The Finishing Touch, Delta; the Frameworks Gallery, Grand Junction; Around the Corner Gallery, Montrose, CO; Bridge Street Gallery, Hotchkiss, CO; Dulces Fine Arts, Cheyenne, WY; Horsethief Canyon Gallery, Grand Junction, CO; Best of the West, Montrose, CO; and the Appleshed Gallery, Cedaredge, CO.
Doherty has also exhibited at the Fall Arts Exhibit, Glenwood Springs, CO; Edge of the Cedars, Cedaredge, CO; Delta Fine Arts, Delta, CO; The Finishing Touch Miniature Show, Delta; Black Canyon Art Show, Hotchkiss, CO; Brush and Palette, Grand Junction, CO; Seven State Regional, Cheyenne, WY; Old Pass Gallery, Raton, NM; Montrose Fine Arts, Montrose, CO; Archer Concept Group, Denver; and the Colorado State Fair, Pueblo.
Artist’s Statement: “My work is concerned with what I know or have experienced. As a young man I worked on several ranches as a cowhand, and to this day I am an avid outdoorsman. This is why I choose to express myself with modern western and wildlife subjects. The western theme of my work allows me to paint my varied interests: people, animals, landscapes, still lifes and ranch life in general. Many of my paintings are concerned with the changing times and situations in the west today. They are not meant to be judgmental or to influence, but are created to make the viewers aware. Let them interpret the message as they wish.”
Doherty earned a B.A. degree in fine art from Western State College at Gunnison, CO, and an M.A. from the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley. After retiring from teaching art in public high school, he continues to teach college-level art courses and community adult classes and workshops.
Delta County Independent; Greeley Tribune; Grand Junction Daily Sentinel; W.R. Doherty brochure; portfolio with news clippings; and personal interviews with the artist, Oct. 2009 by Ron Kop.