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 John Edward Billmyer  (1912 - 2000)

About: John Edward Billmyer


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Lived/Active: Colorado/Ohio      Known for: abstraction-wood engraving, lithograph, crafts, teaching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A Professor of graphics and architecture at the University of Denver, John Edward Billmyer worked in an abstract style and did lithographs and woodcuts.  He lived in Denver, having studied at the University of Denver, the Kirkland School of Art in Denver, and Case Western Reserve University, where he earned Bachelor and Masters Arts degrees.  He was married to Mina Conant Billmyer, an artist known for whimisical, fairy tale drawings.  They met in the 1930s when both were art students at the University of Denver.

As a printmaker, Billmyer created, Flowers, which was used in 1935 as part of the Print-A-Month series of the Cleveland Printmakers' Club. He also did floral wood engravings for the Federal Art Project, Graphic Arts Process Portfolio.

Memberships included College Art Association and Denver Art Museum, which he served as a Trustee.  Work by Billmyer is in the Cleveland Artists Foundation, which is composed of "Cleveland School" artists who were prominent and active between 1900 and 1950.

In Denver, Billmyer was part of a group calling itself "15 Colorado Artists", of which ten were art instructors including Billmyer.  Asserting abstraction over realism, they split from the Denver Artists Guild in 1948 to follow the 'modernist muse'.  In June and July, 2011, the Kirkland Museum of Denver held an exhibition of their work titled: "15 Colorado Artists: Breaking With Tradition". “People wrote scandalous things in the paper about the work [of the] 15, but to us they don’t actually look so cutting edge because now we’re in an era where art can be really, really crazy.” Of this exhibition it was written:

The 15 Colorado Artists collective (membership was by invitation only) lasted until the 1970s and ended up with far more than 15 artists in its ranks. But the Kirkland exhibit deals only with the original 15 and the impact they had on modern art in Colorado.

“It was a magical, seminal moment in Colorado art and emblematic that modern art was becoming widespread in America,” curators Hugh Grant and Deb Wadsworth write in the exhibit catalog. “… Just as Regionalism became a truly American art form, modern art by regional artists in different parts of our country created truly American art forms. … This pivotal moment in the history of Colorado art strengthened and is integral to the development and expansion of American art.” (Glasgow)

Other exhibition venues of Billmyer include Cleveland Museum Art; Denver Art Museum, 1947-68; Metropolitan Show, Denver Art Museum, 1952-67; five shows, Syracuse Museum Fine Art, 1948-56; Wichita Museum Art; 1951, 1955 & 1957; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 1960.

Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
Greg Glasgow, "Former DU instructors among rebel '15 Colorado Artists' on display at Kirkland Museum", DU Today, June 9, 2011
Cleveland Public Library Digital Library, John Edward Billmyer
Cleveland Artists Foundation,

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