The Two Jobs of Fred Bell
A painter. And a salesman of his work. Not to mention the classes he’s taught.
A painter for over 40 years, Fred Bell feels that, in order to make a living as an artist, one must possess an entrepreneurial mindset.
“There are two jobs to being an artist. The first job is doing the work, the second job is exposing it to an audience and selling it,” Bell said. “The fantasy is that you will be discovered by a well-connected art dealer and all you will have to do is the work. This is almost never the case. You cannot let someone else handle it all for you. You must keep hustling, no matter what.”
A Milwaukee native, Bell studied under renowned art teacher Henry Hensche in Provincetown, Massachusetts in the mid-1970s. “It was a great time and place for me. I ended up there by accident, and when I got there, all of my stars lined up and I was home. I knew I was where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to do,” said Bell. The artist then lived in New York City and later Virginia, where he worked as a photojournalist, before returning to his hometown of Milwaukee nearly two decades later.
Primarily a still life and landscape painter, Bell counts Edward Hopper, Edouard Vuillard, Claude Monet, Robert Frank, and Richard Diebenkorn, and many contemporary artists among his numerous influences. “The internet provides the ability to see more work than ever before. I look for inspiration on the web every day,” he noted.
Although Bell feels that an artistic career is not an easy one, he believes that Milwaukee’s art scene continues to thrive. “There are lots of great artists and galleries,” he noted.
Bell has taught night classes for adults at Riverside High School and also has taught through the auspices of the Milwaukee Sketch Club. And he won publicity for his project to do a painting of every tenant in Third Ward’s Marshall Building.
Bell’s work was recently exhibited in the Fine Arts Gallery at UW-Green Bay’s Sheboygan campus, and is currently on display at Lakeshore Art Supplies, 1212 N. 8th St. in Sheboygan.
“From Sheboygan, I’m feeling the love,” Bell added.
Bell sells much of his work online through his website, www.fredbellpaintings.com. He also regularly posts his painting videos on Facebook and Instagram and writes a monthly newsletter, which he emails once a week. Those interested can sign up for the newsletter at www.fredbellpaintings.com.
Kindred Spirits, a series of videos created by painter and Urban Milwaukee contributor Todd Mrozinski, will be projected on a storefront window directly west of Mo’s Irish Pub, 142 W. Wisconsin Ave., from dusk to dawn every night through November 15. From dusk until 11 p.m., a soundtrack will be played with the films. After 11 p.m., the films will run with no sound.
Kindred Spirits includes 35 minutes of 50 of Mrozinski’s videos, which he took with a camera phone and outdated version of Apple program iMovie between 2017 and 2018. Mrozinski noted that his films “were born out of the love I feel for my family, the sky, and the music of two local bands, NINETEEN THIRTEEN and WC Tank (Stumblesome).”
Kindred Spirits is part of the 730 Projection, a project launched by UWM Professor Emeritus Dick Blau, who also co-founded the university’s Department of Film, Video, Animation and New Genres. Sponsored by The Milwaukee Arts Board, Mo’s A Place for Steaks, Riverwest Radio and Stamm Media, the 730 Projection features a one-hour loop of 300 photographs taken by Blau.
Visit https://youtu.be/MQnU1L2aDCk for the Kindred Spirits trailer.
Art Exhibit Openings and Events
-My Heart is Not Blind, a photography and audio exhibit on blindness and perception by artist Michael Nye, will open today at Milwaukee’s Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave. The exhibit will be on display through November 30.
–Giving Gallery: Community in Process, an art exhibit dedicated to nonprofit efforts in Milwaukee, opens today at Northwestern Mutual Tower & Commons, 805 E. Mason St., Milwaukee.
Monday, 5:30 p.m.:
Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.:
Lynden Sculpture Garden artist-in-residence Kim Khaira will host a Giftmaking: Batik with Natural Dyes workshop at the Lynden. The fee is $85 or $75 for members. Khaira will host an additional Giftmaking: Batik workshop at the Lynden Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.:
The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) will host a gallery talk on the museum’s current photography exhibit, Portrait of Milwaukee, in the Herzfeld Center for Photography and Media Arts, with Ariel Pate, assistant curator of photography.
Thursday, 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.:
Milwaukee storytelling nonprofit organization Ex Fabula will host two Living Library workshops at the MAM in conjunction with the Portrait of Milwaukee exhibit in the Herzfeld Center. Visit www.exfabula.org to register for a workshop.
Last Chance: Exhibit Closing
Susceptible to Images, the Portrait Society Gallery’s current exhibition, closes Saturday at the gallery, 207 E. Buffalo St., Ste. 526., in the Third Ward.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.