Art Matters in Bishop
Welcome to Bishop. Where art matters. We are passionate about the beauty of our big backyard and the creativity that flows from the love of this landscape and the closeness of our community. We encourage you to join us by taking some time to immerse yourself in our art, craft, and creativity.
Studies show that engaging in art can promote health and wellness in both individuals and communities as a whole. We know, intuitively, that creativity is good for us and now science is backing that up. Ongoing research has proven that exposure to the arts and, better yet, our own expressions of creativity, can lead to increased self-awareness and improved personal wellbeing.
Art in rural communities is innovative and progressive. Small, interconnected communities have been drivers of new creative thinking for centuries and the trend continues into contemporary times. Consider the remarkable sculpture installation in the nearby ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada, that formed the ‘genesis’ piece of the open air Goldwell Open Air Museum, and the contemporary art found in Marfa, Texas as just a couple of examples of art that rival any urban museum setting. Landscape artists for years have sought out rural communities that have both the physical and cultural space to create their large-scale works. Photographers flock to the high desert and mountain communities to capture a lifestyle and scenery that many urban dwellers long for.
It used to be that major urban centers of the world were the hubs for creativity. Low-cost urban living and compact communities were places where artists could live inexpensively, interact, and create art. They could gather to discuss, share, and shape the vision of their art. More recently, with rising urban rents and an increased cost of living, this has forced creatives away from these areas and encouraged new communities outside the metropolitan hubs.
Today, the desire to live a healthier lifestyle that is closer to nature, combined with the ability to remain connected to the world via the Internet, is steering artists to smaller, rural towns. Everything rural is local and personal, and almost everyone is connected in some way. This allows for the fluid exchange of ideas and the promotion of arts and crafts in a more informal and less expensive environment. These communities are now becoming the creative and cultural hubs of the next generation of artists.
Bishop has a burgeoning art community that is steeped in the cultural traditions of the American West and the early intrepid adventurers and artists who mapped, photographed, and wrote about this beautiful region. Embedded in one of the most stunning natural landscapes in the country, Bishop is an artistically vibrant community with a contemporary vibe. Easy access to nature and a slower pace of life give artists the time and inspiration to create. The holistic lifestyle and closeness of the community allow for authentic connections with one another and the essential exchange of ideas.
Bishop is one of the many small towns across the USA that has come to epitomize cultural coolness with a sense of family values. And our guests tell us that it is always inspiring.
There’s always something to enjoy here, whether it’s a three-day music festival, an open-air art walk through downtown, an arts & crafts fair, a visit to the workshop of a modern art furniture maker, a stroll through a gallery showing works by local artists, attending a social painting class or photography workshop, listening to a local band at a local café or watching a theatrical performance.
Plan your weekend getaways around Bishop’s annual art events, or just make sure to be on the lookout for art and save some time for an Eastside art adventure. Start out at the Bishop Visitor Center and we’ll help you find when and where to go to get your art fix.
Everything you need for an art centric experience
Click on the toggles below to discover how much art and creativity there is to see, do, and experience in the Eastern Sierra.
Galleries. Exhibition Spaces.
There are a number of dedicated arts facilities that range from non-profit arts organizations to private galleries to tribal, cultural, and historical centers. These venues have well-appointed exhibition spaces that show works on a full-time or short-term basis.
Inyo Council for the Arts
“We believe that arts create a language that connects people and enriches lives – We are dedicated to advancing the arts in Inyo County by promoting appreciation, education, and collaboration – ICA brings quality programs and new experiences to our community – We provide a venue for local artists to show their work, for musicians to perform, and for the community to gather in appreciation of the arts – We are a non-profit organization which relies heavily on membership for our continued success.” ~ Inyo Council for the Arts
This non-profit organization has an extensive list of local artists on its website and the gallery is a showcase for their talents. The council offers its venue for art classes and sessions and is the facilitator for ongoing art and music education for children of the community. Stop in at 137 S. Main St., Monday – Friday between 10am – 5pm and see what’s on show!
The annual showcase event presented by this organization every September is the Millpond Music Festival. Read more about this great 3-day music festival in the section, ‘Shows. Fairs. Festivals.’ below.
Two of the great historical figures of the Eastern Sierra, Norman Clyde and Smoke Blanchard, were longtime camp friends of Robert Clunie, a Scottish painter who fell in love with the Eastern & High Sierra. At the start of each summer over the course of several decades Clunie would pack all his art equipment up to the Palisades region of the Sierra Nevada. Here he would spend all day painting “en plein air” and many an evening in conversation with Clyde and Blanchard.
At a time when the photographers of the day, Ansel Adams, Cedric Wright, and Edward Weston were shooting in black and white, before color film was more widely adopted and prior to the advent of large format color printing, Clunie’s bold, colorful paintings were inspirational.
The Coons Gallery began as the home and studio of Robert Clunie and is one of California’s oldest galleries and the oldest continuously operating art gallery in the Eastern Sierra. The gallery is named for a protégé of Clunie’s, Richard Coons, who bought the property in 1986 and developed his own style of realism for which he won numerous art awards.
The gallery is owned and operated by Wynne Benti, a multi-talented artist, writer and designer, and widow of the late Richard Coons. The gallery is a showcase for all three artists’ works and a glimpse into the life and history of artists in the Eastern Sierra. Viewing is by appointment.
Calvary Chapel’s Art and Soul Gallery
The Calvary Chapel’s Art and Soul Gallery began as an exercise in interior décor to spruce up the chapel on South Main Street by Pastor John and his wife Laura. It has since become a space of beauty and tranquility. Art by the Chapel community members is tastefully exhibited and the lovely gallery is a place for all to come in, relax, and reflect.
Laura also scours thrift stores for beautiful and unusual artifacts and objects and most of the art and craft is available for sale. Sales benefit both the artists and the mission of the Chapel.
This intimate venue has served as a center for thought, discussion, creation and exhibition of art in all its forms since 2015.
Started by veteran writer/actor/educator Eva Poole-Gilson, the Imagination Lab presents classes, workshops, parties, performances, meetings and events to nurture art appreciation and further education in the arts. Subjects range from writing workshops, to painting classes, journaling to theatre play for children, music and dance to performance art. If you can imagine it you can create it.
Located in the Town and Country Center, 621 W. Line St., Bishop, “If you want to find out what’s going on at the Imagination Lab, come on down,” says Gilson.
The Project Room @ Independent Project Press
“Exploring a modern aesthetic in a small town with a big back yard.”
The Project Room, in downtown Bishop, was established in 2009 by a dynamic couple, Bruce and Karen Licher who are both multi-talented artists. It has become a highly successful print shop and art gallery that has exhibited works of many local artists including Karen’s art and installations. Bruce began a letterpress printing business, Independent Project Press, in 1982 in Los Angeles and built upon his skill and experience as a musician to develop unique packaging for the music industry. He is credited with having started the trend in letterpress-printed CD and record packaging using industrial-style chipboard and was twice nominated for a Grammy Award for his album packaging.
The couple produces high quality letterpress products for local, national and international clients and printmaking classes are offered occasionally.
The gallery presents short-run exhibitions of one to three months. Stop in at 186A Willow Street in downtown Bishop on Saturday mornings between 11am – 3pm or call to make an appointment to view the gallery and see the presses Monday – Friday. The current exhibition and exhibit archives can be viewed online.
Serrano Fine Art
“Serving the Owens Valley and Eastern Sierra with the finest in Landscape and Western Paintings from some of today’s leading artists!”
A wonderful new addition to the Bishop art scene is this intimate fine art gallery, Serrano Fine Art, located at 156 S. Main street in downtown. Established by Frank Serrano, this gallery is a showcase for his paintings as well as works by many local and national artists. Frank’s work has been highly acclaimed for over 20 years for his unique style of, “Capturing the dramatic atmospheric effects and stunning light that infuses the landscape of the West.”
Frank is also a teacher of art and author of the book ‘Plein Air Painting in Oil’ and instructional DVDs about Plein Air painting. Find out more about current exhibitions here and workshops offered here.
C5 Studios Community Arts Center
“C5 Studios Community Arts Center is a creative hub in Bishop, California that aims to be an inspirational home for creative practice and culture, bringing a vibrant, contemporary arts experience to the region.” ~ C5 Studios Community Arts Center.
This is the newest venture for the promotion and development of the arts in Bishop. The center will offer arts education, co-working studio spaces for local and visiting artists, an event and exhibition hall, and retail space for art and craft sales.
Founded by an all-female group of artists, the mission of the group is to, “Create. Connect, Converse, Construct, & Contribute” to the development of arts in the community.
Located at 210 S. Warren street near downtown Bishop, the center is still undergoing the finishing touches on its premises. This will not, however, affect the group’s commitment to provide quality art education and classes and workshops are already on the schedule here.
A GoFundMe page is ongoing to help this non-profit raise the necessary funds to complete the center.
Laws Railroad MuseumLaws Depot
This wonderful museum celebrates the rich history of the early settlers of the Owens Valley and tells of a time when the railroad station was the heart of a bustling western town.
The Laws Railroad Museum is located 6-miles north of Bishop on US Highway 6 and the site covers eleven acres of land that formed part of the original Laws Railroad depot. All the historic buildings are original structures and some, like the Laws Depot, the Agent’s house, the locomotive turntable, and the oil and water tanks were constructed right here and have stood on this site since the first train rolled in, in 1883.
Close to 50 authentic structures house artifacts and original objects that depict the lifestyles of the homemakers, artisans, and townspeople of the period. Most of these objects of antiquity are the actual tools used by the practitioners of their crafts such as, newspaper publishers, gold miners, ranchers, blacksmiths, dentists, physicians, and pharmacists who lived and worked here.
Read more about the Laws Railroad Museum here and the history of the railway known as the Slim Princess here.
The museum is open daily:
Summer Hours (June through August) from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Winter Hours (September through May) from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
Admission by donation.
Lone Pine Museum of Western Film History
A little south of Bishop on US Highway 395 (60 miles) is Lone Pine. The town is best known as the trailhead for Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the Continental USA. It is also well known as a film location for hundreds of Hollywood movies since the early 1900s. The Lone Pine Museum of Western Film History is located at 701 S. Main St. in Lone Pine and is open daily.
The first documented production filmed here was “Round Up” almost 100 years ago and the area continues to be a sought-after location for feature films, TV shows and commercials. The museum houses an extensive collection of original costumes, vehicles, props, posters, and other memorabilia. It is a wonderful representation of the industry, its producers, directors, actors, crews, and entourage who visited here and created the films that will entertain for generations to come. Spend a couple hours in the museum then take a self-guided tour (a brochure is available at the museum) of Movie Road in The Alabama Hills and get an up close view of the actual locations of so many pictures filmed here.
Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center
Well before explorers and settlers ventured into what is now called the Owens Valley, early Native American people were living, thriving and producing works of art according to age-old cultural traditions. The history of the first people of this land can be seen in the wonderful displays of art and craft at the Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center on West Line Street.
The center is a ‘living center’ that serves as a showcase for historical archives, artifacts and media as well as a place to gather, teach and continue the traditional ways. The museum gift shop offers locally made arts and crafts for purchase.
“We Honor our Past, Share for the Present, and Preserve for the Future.” Stop in and say, “Manahuu” (Hello).
Eastern California Museum
“Home to probably the largest collection of historic photographs from the area.”
Located in Independence, the Eastern California Museum was founded in 1928 and has been operated by the County of Inyo since 1968. Its mission is to collect, preserve, and interpret objects and information related to the cultural and natural history of Inyo County and the Eastern Sierra, from Death Valley to Mono Lake.
Along with about 27,000 photographs that date from the late 1800s to the 1950s, the museum also houses an extensive collection of artifacts. It also holds an archive of History and Family Files, containing newspaper clippings, original documents, and other information about the towns, people, and subjects that have played a role in the history of Inyo County and the Eastern Sierra.
Management of this varied collection requires a computerized database of 15,500 records and museum staff typically handles about 200 requests for information or photo reprints every year. The entire collection is held in public trust and is an outstanding resource for researchers.
Permanent exhibits showcase aspects of life and people in the Eastern Sierra such as; Transportation, Native American communities, the LA Aqueduct, Norman Clyde and much more. Special and rotating exhibits are curated from the extensive collection of photos and artifacts in the museum archives.
The museum is open daily from 10am – 5pm, except major holidays, and admission is free. Donations are optional and appreciated.
Manzanar National Historic Site
“One Camp, Ten Thousand Lives; One Camp, Ten Thousand Stories.”
During World War II the US government ordered the internment of almost 120,000 Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens. Men, women and children were forced to leave their homes and detained in remote, military style camps. The Manzanar War Relocation Center, as it was then called, was one of ten such camps in the US, where over 10,000 people spent all or part of WWII.
Now, the Manzanar National Historic Site, preserves a large tract of land (814 acres of an original 6,200 acres) with a few remaining original structures as a reminder of a period in our history that should not be forgotten. The Manzanar Visitor Center has 8,000 square feet of exhibits, a bookstore, and a theater that shows the award winning 22-minute documentary, Remembering Manzanar.
The center’s extensive display covers over a century of history from 1885 to the present, with its primary focus that of the internment camp. Among its exhibits is a large-scale model of the Manzanar War Relocation Center crafted by former internees, historic photographs, audiovisual programs, and artifacts. A centerpiece of the exhibit is a large graphic with the names of over 10,000 Japanese Americans who spent many years in this detention facility.
A commemorative event is held every year in April and many surviving former internees and a growing number of young people travel to Manzanar to remember and pay tribute to those who were detained here.
The site, under the auspices of the National Park Service, is open every day from dawn to dusk to vehicle traffic and the Visitor Center is open daily.
Shows. Fairs. Festivals.
To paraphrase a well-known quote, “[Art] is in the eye of the beholder.” Of the many fun and interesting events held in Bishop art (or beauty – as the quote is more accurately expressed) is often a central theme.
One special time of year is usually more art-centric than any other time and that is Holiday Time.
Parade. Tree Lighting. Night of Lights Festival
The Christmas Parade, Tree Lighting, and Night of Lights Festival, which is one big holiday event on the first Saturday in December every year, kicks off the holiday season in Bishop in a big, community-wide way.
The time and place to start your countdown to the Holidays is at 4pm at the Bishop City Park. The festivities start off with a bang, when participants in the Annual Santa Run, presented by Bishop Rotary, take off down Main Street for a one-mile fun run to raise funds and awareness for ‘End Polio Now’ – a Rotary International program.
This day of the year is one of only two days every year that US Highway 395 is closed through the heart of town. On this day the Annual Christmas Parade begins at 4:30pm on the south end of town and rolls through downtown as the sun sets behind the snowcapped Sierra Nevada.
As night falls and the parade concludes, the Tree Lighting ceremony at 6pm signals that start of the Night of Lights Street Festival. Participating businesses along Main Street and nearby downtown stay open late and offer special holiday deals and treats. Many merchants provide space for local artists and performers to show or present their art form during this fun and sparkling night. Take a leisurely stroll along the half-mile of downtown Main Street and stop at a warming fire along the way and join in the caroling.
Cardinal Village Christmas Festival
Getting to Cardinal Village Resort, nestled high in Bishop Creek Canyon, is a lovely 20-minute drive from Bishop along US 168 West (West Line St.) to the settlement of Aspendell. This resort was once a working mine village and many of the resort’s buildings and cabins are restored structures that were once part of the Cardinal Mine. Today the resort offers a great escape into Bishop’s Big Backyard and the winter holiday season is a true winter wonderland experience.
Beginning around Thanksgiving the resort holds an annual festival that is quintessentially Christmas. Each weekend before Christmas from Friday to Sunday the magic of the holidays happens here. This is the place to buy a Christmas tree, ornaments, gifts, eat delicious seasonal specialties, go ice-skating and sledding, join in with delightful caroling, and visit with Santa!
The Tri-County Fair
Another great holiday weekend for homegrown art and craft talent is the annual Tri-County Fair every Labor Day weekend. This fair is a traditional old-style country fair where residents vie for ‘best of show’ in a great variety of creative disciplines, including; cooking, photography, quilting, décor, and flower arranging to name just a few.
Labor Day Arts and Crafts Show
The Labor Day Arts and Crafts Show, held in Bishop City Park, runs for all four days of this holiday weekend, Friday – Monday. It is host to about 40 vendors who sell high quality photography, jewelry, woodworking, watercolors, sculpture, clothing, and much more. Many of these vendors are local artists. This show is presented by the Inyo Council for the Arts.
Annual Pow Wow and California Native American Day Celebration
Every 4th weekend in September the Bishop Paiute Tribe holds an Annual Pow Wow and parade during the California Native American Day Celebration. It is a colorful and joyous event to honor and observe deep-rooted cultures and traditions.
The weekend is filled with music, traditional dancing, arts and crafts, food and a fabulous parade. The event is held on the beautiful Paiute Palace Casino Pow Wow grounds and is open and free to the general public.
Millpond Music Festival
The Millpond Music Festival is Bishop’s most prestigious three-day music festival. Presented by the Inyo Council for the Arts, for over 25 years, this festival brings an eclectic mix of music by performers from many parts of the country and abroad. Held at Millpond County Park in September every year, a time when fall colors are typically at their best, it is both intimate in its setting and grand in its surroundings. With the towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada as a backdrop by day and an impressive canopy of stars and the shining Milky Way by night this festival is all about the mingling of music and Mother Nature.
Mule Days Celebration
“A world-class equestrian event promoting the legacy, heritage and talents of the mule.” ~ Mule Days
Every Memorial Day weekend, more than 30,000 fans from around the country (and the world) converge on Bishop for the annual Mule Days Celebration. Over 700 mules with their trainers, riders and packers attend 14 mule shows that include equestrian disciplines such as: Western, English, youth, barrel racing, gymkhana, packing, shoeing, chariot racing, team roping and driving. The result is a tremendous display of human and animal skills. It’s a Wild West test of skills presented and participated in by real working cowboys (girls are cowboys too) in a truly authentic western town.
Among the many highlights during this colorful and fun festival is a parade along Main Street that is believed to be the country’s longest non-motorized parade. The event features excellent entertainment in the form of a country music concert and lively country dancing.
Mule Days is western art, music, and action at its best.
Memorial Day Arts and Crafts Show
In conjunction with Mule Days, the Memorial Day Arts and Crafts Show runs from Friday to Monday of the Memorial Day weekend in the Bishop City Park. Approximately 100 artists and crafters sell their creations at this event hosted by the Inyo Council for the Arts. Many local artists participate in this event.
This is a weekend full of old-world fun and new world art vision.
Chocolate Art Walk
An annual event that stimulates the eye and sweetens the taste buds is the annual Bishop Chocolate Art Walk. It’s a night on the town when businesses stay open late and provide a venue for an artist or a group to show or perform their art form and serve up sweet chocolate treats.
Altrusa Art Show
“Altrusa of the Eastern Sierra is a not-for-profit service association of men and women who volunteer their energies and expertise to projects dedicated to community betterment, with a particular focus on the promotion of literacy.”
Altrusa of the Eastern Sierra (founded 1985) is a member club of Altrusa International, which was founded in 1917. One of the club’s major fundraising events is their annual Altrusa Art Sale held each year in early October. Artists from Inyo and Mono counties are invited to present their works for sale at a one-day event held at the Tri-County Fair & Events Center. The event is a wonderful showcase for local artists to promote their work and give back to the community, with a percentage of the sales going to the community services and programs of Altrusa.
Choo Choo Swap Meet (Spring & Fall)
“It’s like 100 yard sales in one location.”
Sponsored by the Laws Railroad Museum the annual Choo Choo Swap Meet is a locals’ favorite. It’s held twice a year on the large grounds of the Tri-County Fair and Events Center in Spring and Fall on the first Saturday in May and October. Find trinkets and tools, books and bicycles, clothing and carpets, luggage and lace. It’s a genuine treasure trove. Hardly anyone leaves empty handed.
Fall Colors Car Show
“Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines.”
The first weekend in October is full of color. Bishop’s big backyard is basking in the last of the summer sun as autumn begins and fall colors are everywhere. It’s also the time for car enthusiasts to convene in Bishop for the Owens Valley Cruisers Fall Colors Car Show, when lovingly restored vehicles from 1974 and before are shone and shown at the Tri County Fair and Events Center. Classic cars, street rods, customs, trucks, and special interest vehicles are the center of attention in this annual event hosted by the Owens Valley Cruisers.
Performing Arts. Theatres. Movies.
Two theatre organizations bring talent to the Bishop stage. One local, all-volunteer group, Playhouse 395, gives voice to the incredible local talent that resides right here in the Eastern Sierra. Another, the Bishop Community Concerts Organization, brings acclaimed, internationally recognized talent to Bishop to the delight of our local audiences.
On a musical note, the world-renowned group, the Felici Trio, presents classical music at its best at venues in Bishop and Mammoth Lakes.
There is no shortage of musical talent in Bishop and many musicians moonlight with bands, as solo artists, and DJs in venues throughout town. Restaurants, bars and cafés host performances that suit the venue’s environment and clientele and so offer up an eclectic mix of musical genres. Let the well-known songs from recent and previous decades carry you through time or be transported by the rhythms and lyrics of original songs from talented local songwriters.
Live music and DJs can often be heard at these great eateries, check out their websites or pop in and ask who is playing when; Aaron Schat’s Roadhouse, Black Sheep Coffee Roasters, McMurray’s Sports Bar, Mountain Rambler Brewery, Paiute Palace Casino, Rusty’s Bar, and Thai Thai Restaurant.
Playhouse 395 presents an annual Spring musical and Summer Children’s Theatre workshop that showcases local talent from start to finish of every production. Local residents undertake every aspect and role from direction, set design, stage crew, and costuming to actors, singers and dancers. Audiences have come to treasure and look forward to each new production. Large-scale musicals such as Hello Dolly, The Wizard of Oz, Oklahoma, South Pacific, Chicago, Mary Poppins, and Mama Mia have been artfully and successfully staged. The next show to take the stage in 2020 will be the Broadway hit, Little Shop of Horrors.
The prize winning Felici Trio is a classical music lovers delight. The group has performed over 350 concerts in Europe, South America and the US. For almost 20 years the group has been in residence in Mammoth Lakes and brings world-class classical music to Inyo and Mono counties. Through their non-profit arts organization, Chamber Music Unbound, the trio presents a full winter concert series, a summer festival with international guests, a chamber workshop, a music school and “Kids Concerts.” Performances are held in Mammoth Lakes and Bishop.
Bishop Community Concerts Organization
The Bishop Community Concerts Organization presents a series of internationally acclaimed artists for one-night-only engagements in Bishop. It also offers a reciprocity agreement for Season Members to attend other Community Concert Associations’ presentations (based on seating availability) in nearby California and Nevada towns. Performances range from classical musicians, traditional and folk ensembles, singers, entertainers and comedians.
Bishop Twin Theatre
Movie magic in Bishop started almost 100 years ago. Harry Holland was a traveling entertainer and when he passed through Bishop in the early 1900s he liked it so much he quit the show and came back to settle in this Eastern Sierra town. He opened the Bishop Gem Theatre which eventually became the Bishop Twin Theatre as it is now. The premises have just undergone a significant remodel and movies in Bishop are still a big attraction.
The history of this movie house is curious and fascinating. The art of sound effects for motion pictures, which is still a respected profession today, known as Foley Arts was developed by a Bishop local, Jack Foley. Movies in Bishop are an easy treat at this downtown venue at 237 N. Main street. It’s a quick stroll or cycle just a few blocks from nearby residences and lodging facilities with safe, free parking close by. Ticket prices are inexpensive, and the concessions sells freshly popped, hot buttered popcorn, candy, sodas, and other typical movie treats – at yesteryear’s prices.
Film festivals have become a big business and touring festivals are fast becoming a feature in rural communities. Adventure films are particularly welcomed in this community as they resonate with the outdoor lifestyle that is so prevalent in Bishop.
The Banff Film Festival has been hosted in Bishop for over 20 years and is always eagerly awaited and tickets sell out fast. It comes to Bishop during the last weekend in March and tickets can be purchased at Inyo Council for the Arts. The Backcountry Film Festival is a newer addition to the calendar, hosted annually by Friends of the Inyo, and screenings are held in Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, and Lone Pine.
The Lone Pine Film Festival is a presentation of the Lone Pine Museum of Western Film History to celebrate the century of films featuring our beautiful big backyard. The festival celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2020. Each year makers of one of the notable movies filmed here attend the festival and share their experience of film making in the Eastern Sierra. There are meet-and-greets, moderated discussions, Q&As, and location tours with the producers, directors, writers or actors of these films, plus screenings of the movies filmed here.
Retailers & Restaurants
A number of retailers specialize in art, craft, and jewelry. Most of the works sold in these locally owned and operated businesses are created by these entrepreneurs, but they also provide an outlet for other resident, local artists and artisans.
Businesses whose core business is not art, but is in food service or retail goods, also provide space and opportunity for local artists to perform, show, and/or sell their works. Fine art, craft, music, comedy, poetry and storytelling enhance the ambience of the coffee shops, brewery, bookstores and retailers as well as provide economic benefit for both the artists and merchants.
Stop into one of these fine locally owned and operated businesses and sample their wares, purchase goods, and peruse the art; Aaron Schat’s Roadhouse, Black Sheep Coffee Roasters, Eastside Sports, Good Earth Yogurt, Mountain Rambler Brewery, Pupfish Café, Rusty’s Saloon, McMurrys, Sage to Summit, and Thai Thai Restaurant.
Bishop Art Supply
Bishop Art Supply is located at 125 N. Main Street in downtown Bishop. The store supplies local and visiting artists with everything from paper to paints, easels to erasers, beads to business cards, comics books and coloring books. Get kids started early in arts with a wonderful selection of arts and crafts supplies.
Owner, operator, and professional artist, Ron Luce, has extensive art and regional knowledge. He can help artists, from beginner to professional, with everything needed to produce beautiful Eastern Sierra inspired works. The store provides a quality frame shop, and scanning and printing service of artwork and photography, including giclee prints. The in-store gallery shows Ron’s work and works of a select group of local artists. The store also sells office supplies. The store is open Monday to Saturday.
Classes in painting, drawing, and crafts are occasionally hosted at this venue. Checkout their Facebook page for more info.
Bishop Jewelers continues a long tradition of local jewelry making in the Eastern Sierra. The store is located at 275 S. Main Street in Bishop. The store is family owned and operated by Armando Perez and his family. Armando has 30+ years of jewelry experience and designing jewelry is one of his favorite challenges. He can tackle tricky repairs, re-size rings, reset stones, solder, and make an old watch new again. He specializes in custom jewelry with a strong influence from the beautiful backdrop of the Sierra Nevada. The store is open Monday to Saturday.
Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association
“Our mission is to educate and inspire people about Eastern Sierra public lands through high quality interpretive products, exhibits, and programs.” ~ Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association.
This is one of the oldest non-profits in the Eastern Sierra and the first independent organization in the USA to operate under a ‘Participating Agreement’ with the US Forest Service for educational purposes. The association also holds a ‘Cooperative Agreement’ with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Bishop Field Office for education and interpretive projects.
This organization has over 10 retail locations in the Eastern Sierra where books, craft, apparel, DVDs, maps and much more are sold. Most of the publications and merchandise features the work of local artists and authors. Many of the educational events are presented through art, writing, photography, films, and storytelling. Art and the outdoors are closely intertwined in this wild and beautiful region.
Nuts n Twigs
“Nuts n Twigs is not just a cool place to shop, it’s a place to experience.”
This marvelous eclectic gift shop, Nuts n Twigs, is located at 905 N. Main Street in Bishop. It is a husband and wife venture that began with a desire to, ‘promote well-being, eco-conscious living, gourmet, handmade items and niche products.”
The products sold in the store are handpicked by the owners who say they have either personally tested and had good results, or received qualified recommendations from trusted customers, friends or family. In addition to the products from small, non-corporate companies represented here the store also sells crafts from local artisans. The store is open daily.
Sierra Cottons and Wools
Quilting is an age-old art form and this retail store provides a vast array of materials and a wealth of knowledge for both beginner and experienced quilters. Sierra Cottons and Wools first opened in June Lake in 2006, owner Barri Sue Gaudet moved to Bishop in 2009 where she continues to serve a talented community of quilters and crafters. In addition to craft supplies, the store sells beautifully crafted finishing pieces, and offers group quilting sessions and workshops. Stop in and see how the craft and the Sierra can inspire you.
The art of writing and reading is lovingly presented at this local, independent bookstore, Spellbinder Books, at 124 S. Main Street in Bishop. The shelves are stocked with thousands of titles, including national bestsellers and a super selection of local authors’ works. The latter covers a wide variety of locally inspired reading from hiking guides to history books on the region. The shop has a special section geared to children with a colorful and relaxing play area for kids.
Another area of the store is dedicated to promoting local arts and crafts with displays of pottery, jewelry, scarves, postcards and many other local creations on sale. The store is one the best places to get gifts and souvenirs inspired by and created right here in the Eastern Sierra.
Spellbinder Books has been a recipient of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) prestigious award of “Outstanding Community Bookstore” in past years. Locally-owned and operated, it is a respected and well-loved business in the Bishop and Eastern Sierra community.
Public Art & Groups
On buildings throughout Bishop the history of the Owens Valley is depicted on the exterior walls in the form of historically accurate and visually beautiful murals. The Bishop Mural Society was established in 1997 “to display our heritage in a spectacular outdoor art gallery surrounded by natural beauty.” Today there are fifteen murals, the most recent of which is made up of 421 sculpted ceramic tiles and mosaic, created by 216 community members. The society is a founding member of the California Public Art and Mural Society and mural projects are ongoing through the generous support of the community. Pick up a map at the Bishop Visitor Center or follow the links online on the society’s webpage.
Eastern Sierra Plein Air Painters
Plein-Air painting has a long-standing tradition in the Eastern Sierra. This region has an extensive range of opportunities for plein air painting with easy access to the most unspoiled and magnificent landscapes anywhere in the world. It is a year-round art activity that presents the seasons in the most glorious way imaginable. A group of local Eastern Sierra Artists arrange regular outings for plein air art. Check their web page often for updated info.
The Urban Sketchers of Bishop hold regular meet-ups to put pen, pencil, and paint on paper in nearby urban and rural locations. The event often involves coffee, drinks, snacks and great art chat. Follow the group’s Facebook page to get updates on who’s drawing what where.
Classes & Workshops
In addition to educational opportunities offered by the galleries and studios already mentioned above there is much more great art and craft training offered by these business and services in Bishop.
Drawing & Painting
Are you a painter? Yes or No – this is the place to go! Paint it Away is the place to relax and socialize and, most of all, paint. Join a class, schedule a group or book a party. Open to aspiring artists of all ages. All art supplies and some refreshments are provided and at the end of the session you will go home with a painting signed by you.
Owens Valley Arts offers monthly arts workshops for adults, youth and children from beginner to advanced. Classes in portraiture, still-life, illustration, collage, and print making are presented, which include instruction in foundational drawing and painting skills, rendering and line technique, color theory and mixing, and composition. Most classes are held in Independence, CA.
As with so much in the Eastern Sierra, photography has a long and acclaimed history here. Ansel Adams (b:1902-d:1984) and, more recently, Galen Rowell (b:1940-d:2002), are two of the most well-known and prolific photographers of the region. Each created styles and techniques that still set standards for outdoor photography today. Today’s photographers have embraced new technologies and expanded on the opportunities that this region presents. Great landscape photography still commands respect, and portrait and wedding photography in nature has grown in quality and quantity. Many local photographers offer their knowledge and skills through classes and workshops. Here are links to a number of well-respected, resident photographers who offer classes or workshops:
From contemporary to classical music there is a wonderful range of lessons and workshops available for children and adults in the Eastern Sierra.
The Felici Trio through their Chamber Music Unbound offers these great schools and sessions:
Other local, talented musicians offer classes and instruction on instruments such as: guitar, violin, piano, and woodwinds. Their information can be found here on this Inyo Council for the Arts page – click on the Lessons tab.
The Bishop Dance Group holds a fun ballroom dance evening every Tuesday from 5:30 – 7:30 at Jill Kinmont Boothe School, 166 Grandview Rd. in Bishop. The dance session is open to all local and visiting adults and teens. No partner needed. Just drop in anytime during the session and learn more about frame and footwork. Donations are greatly appreciated for our volunteer professional dance instructor.
The Dance School Bishop offers dance and movement classes for children, teens, and adults. Dance sessions are seasonal with the spring and fall sessions offering a full line up of creative movement, ballet, hip hop, tap and jazz. Each session culminates in a seasonal showcase.
Wakeful Ascent Aerial Arts is the newest movement arts training offered in Bishop. Aerial arts training is offered for children from age 5 or 6 in groups (or as young as 3 years old privately) and teens and adults. No prior experience is necessary to sign up for monthly sessions at the appropriate level. Drop-ins for single classes or open climb require assessment 24 hours prior to class – which can be done via the internet. The classes are held at Bishop CrossFit at 162 Willow Street in downtown Bishop.
Artists. Crafters. Musicians. Photographers.
It is likely that well over 100 artists, crafters, designers, musicians, and photographers (artists as defined by NEA – the National Endowment for the Arts) live and work in the Eastern Sierra, in Bishop and Inyo County.
Many hold full-time or part-time jobs in other professions and practice their art as a hobby in their spare time. Many make a living through their craft and others supplement their income through their art.
Supporting local art helps to improve the quality of art, quality of life, and the health and vibrancy of the community.
Bishop Arts District
A collaborative project by the City of Bishop, the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce, and a group of Eastern Sierra artists has been created to recognize businesses in downtown Bishop that support the arts. Businesses that specialize in the arts, and those that provide opportunity for artists to show and sell their works, display a banner that indicates that the business is a participating merchant.
Bishop Visitor Center
“California is home to more artists than any other state,” ~ California Arts Council
Art matters in Bishop!
Collaboration of arts and artists has always been a feature of vibrant cultural communities and Bishop is no different from the great art cities of the world. Artists convene to discuss art and challenge the status quo, merchants offer avenues for expression, and collectors search out trends.
To find out more about all the artists and venues discussed here click on the individual links provided throughout this page. Come into our Visitor Center at 690 N. Main Street in Bishop for maps, brochures and answers to your questions.
Support our local artists and crafters. You never know … you may just get an early original of the next big thing.