The paintings in Quad Cities artist Leslie Bell’s Running Room conjure a world free of war, sexual abuse, blood sport, muscle cars and other forms of manly garbage and disruption. The female protagonists of Bell’s paintings go about their business. They mature, learn and share and are by turns awkward and graceful. They philosophize and goof up without the off-putting presence of male energy.
Bell says, “My intention is to create a gender-neutral vantage point (insofar as a male can) akin to Cartier Bresson’s unobtrusive form of observation and appreciation. So, here are my girls and women—fallible, respectable, quirky, irreverent; ignorant, wise and lovable. Full of possibilities given the running room.”
Bell is a professor of art at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa where he lives with his wife, Sara, who is also a painter.
Born in Washington D.C., he moved to Iowa in 1965 to study art with Father Edward Catich, the world-renowned calligrapher, epigrapher and graphic designer, at St. Ambrose University. He received his BA in art in 1972. His MA and MFA in painting are from Northern Illinois University, where he studied with Walter Ball and Richard Beard.
His awards include a fellowship in painting from Arts Midwest/NEA, the Special Recognition Award, best in painting, from the Des Moines Art Center in their Iowa Artists show, two first prize and purchase awards from the Davenport Museum of Art, and grants from the Iowa Arts Council and Quad City Arts.
Pictured: Family Photograph