More than 30 years after first opening his restaurant, Bishop’s, on West 4th Avenue, John Bishop remains one of the Vancouver food industry’s most illustrious and gracious representatives. Famed for his gentlemanly demeanour and excellent dishes, Bishop counts Pierre and Justin Trudeau, Robert De Niro, Bill Clinton, and Sean Penn as customers—but, as he proudly tells the Straight, he treats all his guests equally.
Not just the haunt of politicians and movie stars, Bishop’s also tallies a number of creative types among its regulars—which is where the restaurateur first encountered the celebrated Vancouver artist Alan Wood.
“I met him in 1985, when we opened our doors,” Bishop recalls on the line from his home. “He used to come in with his son, Danny. One day, Danny said to me, ‘You know, you should buy my Dad’s art’. He knew that I was a collector, and he pointed out four pieces, which were watercolours of waterfalls. I bought them, and I still love them. They were some of the earliest pictures that I hung at the restaurant.”
Best known for his ambitious Ranch Project installation—a massive environmental art piece built on 320 acres at the foothills of the Rockies—Wood’s work focused primarily on natural landscapes. A man with a tremendous sense of humour and loved by his students, Wood had a varied and prolific career. After the artist passed away six weeks ago, Bishop—who counted Wood as a personal friend—offered to host an exhibition of his work in the restaurant.
“I was talking to Alan’s daughter, Anna, and I said, ‘Well, look,’” he recalls. “‘As well as having a little get-together with Alan’s friends to remember him, why don’t we do a show of his work at Bishop’s. We can have one afternoon for a private gathering, and then continue the exhibition on for a couple of months.’ I hoped that it might achieve two things—for people to remember Alan, and for individuals not familiar with his work to have an opportunity to see it.”
With Wood's daughter’s enthusiastic blessing, the pair has already begun to plan the display, set to open on April 11 and run until June.
“The show will be composed of collages, which is what he’s really known for,” Bishop says. “And then there will be wood construction pieces, which are again about landscape. So it will be a mix of mediums. For me, I love his collage pieces. I don’t know if they’re titled yet—they’re ones that are coming from his own collection, which Anna has pulled out. There’s going to be one beautiful big acrylic painting on the main wall when people come in, and then there’s another one that’s going to be placed upstairs.”
“I so enjoy his work,” Bishop continues. “He’s remembered fondly by everyone, especially in this city, because he toured a lot of art in Vancouver. We were tremendous friends, and it’s so sad that he passed away.”
Alan Wood’s pieces will be exhibited at Bishop’s (2183 West 4th Avenue) from April 11 until June.