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Allen C. Bishop

Allen Bishop was born in 1953 in Moab, Utah. He is an abstract expressionist whose work shows the interaction of geometry, shape, and color. His painting takes the raw elements of line, color, and form and empowers them with order. He lives and teaches in Granite, Utah.

Bishop first encountered abstract expressionism when he was Don Olson's student at Jordan High School. Bishop earned a BFA from the University of Utah in 1978 and an MFA from the University of Denver School of Art in 1982. The Utah Arts Council awarded him a Visual Arts Fellowship (1987–89). He taught at Sam Houston State University in Texas, at the University of Denver, at the Visual Art Institute in Salt Lake, and at the Salt Lake Art Center.

In 1986, he began to work with his distinctive permutable paintings—a series of canvases that the viewer can arrange according to his wishes.  Straxis is an example of his permutable painting. Bishop's work is held in collections at the LDS Museum of Art, the E. F. Hutton Company in Denver, the Springville Museum of Art, and the BYU Museum of Art, and in numerous private collections.

Biographical information on this page was adapted from the Springville Museum of Art.

Born May 7, 1953, in Moab, Allen Bishop is one of Utah's boldest Abstract Expressionists. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Utah in 1978, and he received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Denver School of Art in 1982. The Utah Arts Council awarded him a Visual Arts Fellowship from 1987-1989. Currently, Bishop operates Ylem Art School in Granite, Utah, where he has been the director and an instructor since 1988. He also has taught at Sam Houston State University in Texas, at the University of Denver, at the Visual Art Institute in Salt Lake, and at the Salt Lake Art Center.

Bishop views a work of art as a living entity, as an organism caught in the middle of the creative process. He says, “I treat each piece as a new organism, breathing with its own type of life. I do not seek to mimic, but to expand nature; not to plagiarize, but to continue the creative processes of God.“ Consequently, Allen does not paint within the traditional, rectangular frame, but expands his canvas, making it reach out in all directions like an abstract sculpture. His paintings almost appear to grow in an array of varying shapes and colors. He explains, “my paintings generate a type of life of their own beyond a simple accumulation of shapes and colors.“ Like La Semilla Brota (Spanish for “budding seed“), they burst forth, striving for life. This organic quality may have its roots in Bishop's interest in biology as well as in his reluctance to have traditional formatting dictate the shapes his art will take.

Allen involves the art collector in some of his works by fashioning his paintings in movable pieces so they can be arranged according to the desire of the owner. He calls them “permutable“ paintings. “Recently,“ he says, “I've introduced elements of time, change and choice by using shaped canvases in rearrangeable, multi-part configurations. This way, I hope to give the viewer/collector increased opportunity to participate in the process of visual communication, thus allowing the 'universal structures' of shape and color to function on a more elastic and democratic level.”Bishop's nonobjective, geometric, multi-pieced art works involve people in the creative process long beyond their completion. As long as his painting survive, they can be arranged and rearranged into new, living works of art. Colors and shapes cause the eye to move from one area to another, and as these shapes and colors are placed in fresh positions, they create new ways for viewers to see and to interact with the paintings.

Bishop still makes some arrangible pieces, but he also is making wood reliefs, several of which are large public projects. For the Science building at Southern University of Utah, in Cedar City, he created a 5' x 25' work entitled Probe. The artwork consists of five shaped wood panels with a low relief of shapes glued to the panels and then painted with acrylics.

Another large project was the design of logo panels for the group Leonardo on Wheels, a science and art exhibit that traveled the state. Bishop painted designs on large hexagonal plastic panels for each area of the exhibit such as light, movement, energy, etc.

When asked about changes in his art, Bishop cites the movement to wood reliefs as an important area of exploration and says he is including more recognizable shapes in his work—not realistically painted, but clearly identifiable shapes such as birds and snakes. Sometimes the links to realism in his works are subtle, such as his group of works Assent of Man. Although the pieces are painted abstractions, the proportions of each piece, 54” x 24”, are reminiscent of human proportions. And, like many of his works, Bishop says Assent of Man has references both to science and religion. He produced the work largely as a response to Charles Darwin's book The Descent of Man.

Recently, Bishop was part of a team working on the design of the light rail station near Franklin Quest Field in Salt Lake. His assignment was to design the pavers for the station. Another recent commission is a piece to be installed in the new Science building under construction at Utah State University.

In addition to the growing list of public artworks by Bishop at places like Red Butte Gardens and South Towne Center, his pieces are in private collections, museums and state collections throughout the state including The L.D.S. Museum of Church History and Art, the Springville Museum of Art, and the B.Y.U. Museum of Art.

Allen Bishop, interviews Jerry A. Schefcik's “A View of Four,“ Utah Arts Council Visual Artist Fellowship Award, 1990.

Biography courtesy Springville Museum of Art

Newspaper Articles

"2 S.L. Artists Go South For a Warm Reception." The Deseret News, August 26, 1990.

"1990 Arts in Review." The Deseret News, December 30, 1990.

"Abstract Utah: Exhibit at Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art Reveals 50 Years of Artistic Evolution in State." The Deseret News, May 12, 1996.

"Allen Bishop's art works are prized for their passion and their position in the State's Art History. Changing Shapes: Allen Bishop Follows Nature's Lead In Creating His Diverse Paintings." The Salt Lake Tribune, April 30, 1995.

"Art Canvass." The Deseret News, September 27, 1998.

"Art Canvass." The Deseret News, October 27, 1996.

"Art Canvass." The Deseret News, August 9, 1992.

"Art Canvass." The Deseret News, May 10, 1992.

"Art Canvass." The Deseret News, July 1, 1990.

"Art Canvass." The Deseret News, February 12, 1989.

"Art Commisions: They Provide Livelihood, Exposure and Lofty Goals For Visual Artists in Utah." The Deseret News, February 13, 1994.

"Art Notes: Artist From Australia at U of U." The Salt Lake Tribune, October 20, 1991.

"Art Treasures Offer Possibilities for Treasured Christmas Gifts S.L. Area Exhibits Tailored to Fit Many Holiday Budgets." The Deseret News, December 11, 1988.

"Art Scene: Utah Spring Salon's 67th Edition Welcomes New Artists." The Salt Lake Tribune, April 21, 1991.

"The Arts in '95 It Was a Good Year for Utah Stages, Books and Galleries A Good Year In Utah For the Arts." The Salt Lake Tribune, December 31, 1995.

"Arts Council Issues Call to Artist." The Salt Lake Tribune, March 17, 1991.

"An Arty, Leisurely Walk on a Short Pierpont Avenue." The Deseret News, January 15, 1989.

"Artist Competing for Convention Center Space." The Deseret News, December 26, 1993.

"Artist Find Experimenting Leads to Growth." The Deseret News, March 12, 1989.

"Artists Play an Aesthetic 'Hide-And-Seek'" The Deseret News, May 19, 1991.

"Back to The Future: S.L. Exhibits Featuring Contemporary Works on Paper, Women Artists of Past, 1-Man Show Make Intriguing Mix." The Deseret News, July 2, 1989.

"Bad Dog Rediscovers Amerida." The Deseret News, October 18, 1998.

"Best Bets For The Week Ahead." The Salt Lake Tribune, August 16, 1992.

"Changing Shapes." The Salt Lake Tribune, April 30, 1995.

"Colors are Brilliant-In Hills and Gallery." The Deseret News, October 14, 1990.

"Coming Up: Visual Art." The Salt Lake Tribune, March 4, 2001.

"Coming Up: Visual Arts." The Salt Lake Tribune, May 18, 1997.

"Coming Up: Visual Arts." The Salt Lake Tribune, December 5, 1993.

"Discovering a Gift of Art at Holiday Gallery Shows." The Salt Lake Tribune, December 9, 1990.

"Galleries." The Deseret News, May 11, 1997.

"Galleries Spotlight 8 Rising Artists." The Deseret News, January 28, 1990.

"Inclusions: Project Refutes Narcissism as Artists Collaborate with Underserved, Disabled to Create Art for S.L. Exhibit." The Deseret News, February 23, 1995.

"May We Suggest." The Salt Lake Tribune, April 21, 1995.

"Museums Put 'Virtually' all Their Great Art on the Web." The Deseret News, July 8, 1996.

"New Shows at Gallery, Art Center offer Sizzling Assortment of Styles." The Deseret News, April 15, 1990.

"Off-the-Wall Exhibits Really are Sculpture and Art Pieces are Unusual, 3-Dimensional." The Deseret News, March 18, 1990.

"The Pierpont Gallery an Exercise in Collaboration for Both Artists and Architects." The Deseret News, May 26, 1988.

"Phillips' Extraordinary Exhibit a Must-See for Utah Collectors." The Deseret News, August 23, 1998.

"PTSA Art Group at Alta Will Receive Mural." The Deseret News, June 10, 1990.

"Rewarding Visual Artistry Two Utahns Capture Art Fellowships." The Deseret News, May 15, 1988.

"Showing at Local Galleries." The Deseret News, March 25, 2001.

"Small Packages' Contain Lots of Beauty for Art Lovers." The Deseret News, December 6, 1992.

"Some Galleries Don't Take a Holiday from Serious Art." The Deseret News, November 28, 1993.

"Spring in Art City." The Deseret News, May 1, 1994.

"Spring Salon Displays Vitality and Variety of Old and New Artists." The Deseret News, April 21, 1991.

"Starmaker Statue is Unveiled at SUU." The Deseret News, July 19, 1994.

"Teacher Keeps Artwork Nonviolent." The Salt Lake Tribune, January 6, 1995.

"Utah Art Spans an Array of Time, Subject Matter." The Deseret News, March 31, 1991.

"The Viewer is the Artist's Collaborator." The Deseret News, May 30, 1993.

"'Visual Jazz' Implies Rhythm for the Eyes." The Deseret News, September 15, 1996.

"Vivid Colors Mark Art Offerings Around S.L." The Deseret News, April 30, 1989.

"Work of 3 Utah Artists Brighten and Revitalize Phillips Gallery's Main Hall." The Deseret News, March 29, 1992.

"Works on Paper' Show Dimensions of Many Media." The Deseret News, July 15, 1990.


Nora Eccles Marrison Museum of Art. The Reality of Abstraction: Painting in Utah l946-1996. Logan, UT: Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, 1996.

Olpin, Robert S.,William C. Seifrit, and Vern G. Swanson. Artists of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1999.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, and William C. Seifrit. Utah Painting and Sculpture. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, l997.

Swanson, Vern G., Robert S. Olpin, Donna L. Poulton, and Janie L. Rogers. 150 Years Survey: Utah Art Artists. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith Publisher, 2002.


McEntire, Frank. "Art in the Public Interest." Salt Lake Magazine. July/August 1999. 39-42.

Schefcik, Jerry, "Allen Bishop." A View of Four. April 1990, 12-15.

 Last Modified 6/20/18