Friday, January 23, 2015

Gladys Caldwell Fisher: Sculptor and Animalier

I'm continually surprised at the numbers of female artists I discover whose names are virtually unknown beyond their local fame. That is my motivation-their work is beautiful, professional, and deserves to be re-visited so....

Gladys Caldwell Fisher
American Indian Orpheus and the Animals
ca 1934
Stone Relief
Denver City and County Building
Denver, Colorado

Born in Loveland, Colorado, Gladys Caldwell Fisher's family moved to Denver in 1917 when she was eleven years old. Gladys had an interest in sculpture from the time she was a child. While she attended Manual and East High Schools from 1921-1925, she joined the Beaux Arts Atelier, Denver at the suggestion of local, professional artists. After her third year at the atelier, she received a scholarship from the Denver Allied Arts in 1926, allowing her to study sculpture for a year at the American School of Architecture in New York under Alexander Archipenko. Afterward, she spent a summer in sculpture and ceramic classes in Woodstock, New York. She used a second Denver Allied Arts scholarship to study in Paris with Antoine Bourdelle at the Econle de las Grande Chaumiere and also learned under sculptors Jose de Creeft, George Hilbert, and Aristide Maillol.

After she returned to the United States in 1929, Fisher did freelance work in New York and in 1932, returned to Denver. Four years later she married architect Alan Berney Fisher. While raising a family, she continued to pursue her career and she taught art at Denver University and the Denver Art Museum.

Gladys Caldwell Fisher
Model of Boulder Dam
ca 1935
Cast aluminum
19.5 w x 14 d x 7 h inches
Gladys' love of animals was evident throughout her life and she spent quite a bit of time observing them in their natural habitat. Two of her Rocky Mountain sheep sculptures installed in 1936 at the main Denver post office, weighed ten tons each and were carved from limestone. The sculptures were the result of winning a federal competition to produce sculptures for the Denver Post Office. To begin her work, Gladys spent time in Yellowstone observing sheep in their natural habitat.

Gladys Caldwell Fisher
          Rocky Mountain Sheep" and White Ram
ca 1936
      Indiana limestone
        Byron White U.S. Courthouse
Fisher modeled a pair of grizzly bear cubs for the Yellowstone Park post office at Mammoth Hot Springs, a federal commission she completed in 1941. Her depiction of the cubs was somewhat controversial because of her abstracted style which was influenced by her study with Alexander Archipenko. Other subjects of her work included bobcats, fawns and burros.

Gladys Caldwell Fisher
Young Grizzly Bears
ca 1941
Yellowstone National Park Post Office
Fisher exhibited widely including the Paris Salon, Society of Independent Artists, the Denver Art Museum, Colorado Fine Arts Center, and the Syracuse, New York Museum of Fine Arts. Her work can also be found at the Special Collections Library, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, Denver Art Museum, the Denver Public Library and at the City and County Building in Denver.
Gladys Caldwell Fisher
Sandy and Johnny
ca n.d.
11 1/8 x 10 1/8 inches
Gladys Caldwell Fisher died on April 18, 1952 in Denver, Colorado.

An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West, Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, 1998, pp 93-94
Public Art Archive, Gladys Caldwell Fisher,, retrieved January 23, 2015
Peter Hassrick, "Drawn to Yellowstone"
New Deal Art Registry,, retrieved January 23, 2015
Best of the West Auctions, Gladys Caldwell Fisher, Colorado Springs, CO, retrieved January 23, 2015

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