Michael Bell is a renowned American artist, best known for his cinematic, narrative series paintings and for his infamous portrait clientele, which includes John Gotti, Dominic Capone and numerous actors from hit crime shows and mob movies such as the Sopranos, Goodfellas, A Bronx Tale and more.
Bell has always been naturally gifted in art, winning 1st Place in the first art show he ever entered at the age of 5. As an emerging artist he spent a lot of his time in and around New York City studying art with his maternal grandmother, Violet Vallery, a self-taught artist from Lyndhurst, New Jersey. This is where Bell began to explore life's psychological issues through his paintings. His most recent commissioned portrait for John A. Gotti made the cover of the New York Daily News and became the cover art for Gotti's best-selling novel "Shadow of my Father." This led to Bell writing his own #1 best-selling education memoir published June 10, 2017 by MBELLART Productions, LLC about his art and life, "DUAL LIVES: from the Streets to the Studio."
As a domestic violence and anti-bullying activist, Bell received the Los Angeles Good Shepherd Domestic Violence Community Service Award in 2005 and champions his activism in schools, teaching students how to create hundreds of handmade sketchbooks for the women and children's shelter in L.A. annually, just in time for Christmas. Bell has done numerous interviews on the topic with longtime friend, painting client and former mob wheel woman Georgia Durante, along with Denise Brown, sister to Nicole Brown Simpson, slain ex-wife of O.J. Simpson. Bell also created the notable portrait of Amanda Todd, the Port Coquitlam, B.C. teen that tragically committed suicide after documenting her years of bullying on YouTube. This portrait made international headlines in the Huffington Post and forged a lifelong partnership to end bullying between Bell and Carol Todd, mother of the fallen teen. In 2012, Bell's activism also led to a collaboration with world renowned artist friend Eric Fischl, contributing projects based on our "30 Human Rights" for Fischl's AMERICA: NOW AND HERE movement. This sparked an impressive Super Session of Bell's innovative "31Nights" project at the NAEA Convention in New York City, and has prompted numerous keynotes and workshops across the nation ever since.
In addition to Bell's incredible accomplishments to the art world, Bell has donated his time and thousands of dollars through the sale of his paintings for numerous charities at auctions in Maryland, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Bell has also written a screenplay based on the real-life events surrounding
his famous "TICKET TO RIDE" painting series, which was first launched at a Solo Exhibition in New York. The show was attended by some of Bell's celebrity portrait clientele, which led to Bell's partnership with HBO's Sopranos star Joseph R. Gannascoli and the creation of artwork for Gannascoli's CUGINE Cigar Line and a celebrity portrait unveiling with other Sopranos stars Dominic Chianese and Frank Vincent to benefit Bright Steps Forward to help fund their Educational Academy for Autism, years before Bell's own son's diagnosis with Autism.
Bell has also excelled in the field of education, pioneering the Visual Journaling movement, giving workshops and keynotes across the country, in addition to numerous webinars and podcasts for the NAEA, theArtofEd, in addition to a TED talk on "Drawing a line from your life to your art" to help artists, teachers and students find their voice artistically.
Other achievements include founding and sponsoring "ArtQuest," which has become one of the largest and most community inclusive student art exhibitions K-12 in the United States. Bell was the Maryland Art Education Association Teacher of the Year (2002); Anne Arundel County Public Schools Teacher of the Year (2004). In 2005, Bell was commissioned to paint the official portrait of Nancy S. Grasmick, Maryland's first female State Superintendent of Schools. In 2008 Bell was chosen as one of just two Secondary National Presenters selected by Arne Duncan, then U.S. Secretary of Education (2009) to give a national presentation on "Arts, Innovation & Design." In 2010 Bell joined the ranks of just 3% of the nation's educators to earn National Board Certification and in 2013 Bell was awarded numerous national teacher of the year awards, including the CollegeBoard's William U. Harris National Award of Excellence, the NAEA's National Art Honor Society Sponsor of the Year for the Nation the Washington Post's Agnes Meyer Most Outstanding Teacher of the Year award recipient and the Dr. James Douthit Outstanding Achievement Award from his alma matter, Lycoming College.
Great stories like these keep emerging time and time again, with Michael Bell helping art students earn over ten million in scholarship offers the past five years alone! $2,047,000 in 2011; $2,255,000 in 2012; $2,124,688 in 2013; $1,336,676 in 2014; $2,445,342 in 2015 and $2,120,720 in 2016. And this is just their financial impact on his students' lives. Mr. Bell has also produced seven National Art Education Association (NAEA) Rising Star Award Winners seven years in a row; eight Scholastic Art & Writing National Gold and Silver Medalists in Painting and Photography the past three years in a row; and back-to-back Scholarship for Scholars winners in Art for his county. Bell's accomplishments in the field of Art and Education are unprecedented - ANYWHERE.
Bell has also made several television cameos, appearing with his "Sopranos" pals in Brooklyn and in Chicago at the World's First Golden Age of Gangsters Convention doing print signings; doing live radio shows with the Sopranos John Fiore and Dominic Capone III (Al Capone's Great Nephew); acting as a Spy on Season 22 of CBS's The Amazing Race; in Season 1 of NetFlix hit series House of Cards; doing a portrait unveiling on Season 3 of VH1's Mob Wives; and another cameo in Season 1 of The Capones, where Bell was filmed at his Solo Art Exhibition in Chicago and unveiling a new commissioned portrait at a prominent Chicago art gallery for pal Dominic Capone. In 2015 Bell received another major commission to create an epic portrait for John A. Gotti for the cover of his best-selling novel "Shadow of my Father," portraying him and his iconic father, John Gotti, Sr. as colossuses over Manhattan. On January 18th Bell's portrait made the cover of the New York Daily News, and in June, 2017 Bell released his own best-selling memoir DUAL LIVES: from the Streets to the Studio and had a powerfully moving two-man exhibition at Converge Gallery from October 6 - 28, 2017 featuring works from Bell's "31 nights" collection and his "Carnevale series".
Bell holds a BFA from Lycoming College, a M.Ed. in Art Education from Towson University and wrote his Masters Thesis on "Visual Journaling." He currently spends his time traveling throughout the country giving inspiring Artist Talks on how to "Draw a Line from your Life to your Art...that is straight and clear." Book Michael Bell to be your next keynote speaker or guest artist lecturer and to provide quality professional development workshops on numerous inspiring topics.
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