About The Artist: John Fisher

The Art that Captures the Essence of Thanksgiving in Wine Country

Thanksgiving In Wine Country celebrates its 35th birthday this November, a festive Willamette Valley tradition winemakers and wine enthusiasts alike have come to associate with autumn in Oregon. Looking at the iconic artwork of John Fisher, who has partnered with the Willamette Valley Wineries Association over many projects and vintages, you’d think the holiday weekend and its endless array of events was much, much older.

Fisher operates in both fine art and graphic design. His latter work for the association is clean and seemingly timeless, offering the crispness of a photograph yet animated by way of playful, often primary colors. There’s slick layering to much of his work, as though it was a handful of separate cutouts to begin with, stacked nearly atop one another.

Many have witnessed his art, even if they couldn’t tie a name to it. Fisher’s visual accompaniments to the wildly successful Pinot In The City campaign neatly encapsulate every journey of that ongoing roadshow. There’s the Seattle poster, with a dripping Orca’s tail in the foreground the the Emerald City skyline in the distance. The Los Angeles poster depicts a black-and-white maze of buildings and off-ramps cloaked in the golden hue of southern California sun. This is to say nothing of his local subject matter, which overwhelmed him upfront.

“The Oregon landscape was challenging at first,” Fisher admits. “I felt a little claustrophobic with all the hills, as opposed to the midwest landscape where you can see the horizon for miles.”

Fisher visited his Portland-based sister while in high school frequently. The terrain blew him away and soon he packed up and headed west. Soon, he found himself getting lost on winding Willamette Valley roads, meandering in and out of the many vineyards, farmhouses and forested hills that would inform his work.

“Most of the artwork is seasonal, so it needs to capture a sense of place and time,” Fisher says. The greatest example of such seasonality also happens to be his favorite piece, a simple but evocative illustration for Wine Country Thanksgiving 2003. In it, a golden leaf droops over ripe ready-to-pick Pinot Noir clusters. A hushed and stoic background of brushy foothills and Mt. Hood’s silhouette completes an eye-catching and economical piece.

Fisher continues to pen illustrations for the association, in between painting stirring Oregon country landscapes and offering graphic design services for a host of clients including wine labels like Alloro Vineyards and Evesham wood via he and his wife’s firm Fisher Carlson Co.

Like any good artist, Fisher is willing to offer up inspirational colleagues. For his Pinot In The City pieces, he mentions David Lance Goines, whose symbolism, layering and tight presentation is not at all unlike Fisher’s. Both artists have taken on expansive content and both have excelled in capturing it with a certain precision.

The Willamette Valley may be home to hundreds of wineries and many more vineyards, but Fisher can somehow distill that into a single iconic image.


by Mark A. Stock | markastock.com
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon who spent a healthy stretch in the Dundee Hills making, selling and drinking wine. He’s written for Willamette Week, Oregon Wine Press, Travel Oregon, Sip Northwest, SevenFifty and more. Fly-fishing, Icelandic soccer and The Simpsons are among his favorite distractions.