Michael Bell is a renowned American artist, best known for his cinematic, narrative series works and for his infamous portrait clientele, which includes reputed Mob Boss John Gotti 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 epic portrait that made the cover of the New York Daily News was painted for John A. Gotti for the cover of his best-selling novel "Shadow of my Father."
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 annually, just in time for Christmas. Bell has done numerous talk shows on the topic with longtime friend Denise Brown, sister to Nicole Brown Simpson, slain ex-wife of O.J. Simpson. Bell also created the notable collaborative portrait of Amanda Todd, the Port Coquitlam, B.C. teen that 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 “31Nights” project at the NAEA Convention in New York City, and has prompted numerous keynotes 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 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.
Bell has also excelled in the field of education, pioneering the Visual Journaling movement, giving workshops and keynotes throughout the country. Other achievements include founding and sponsoring "ArtQuest," which is one of the largest and most community inclusive student art exhibitions 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, 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 he's since produced six national NAEA Rising Star Award Winners (an award presented to just one student artist in the entire nation) six years in a row. In 2013 Bell was awarded the CollegeBoard's William U. Harris National Award of Excellence, the NAEA's National Art Honor Society Sponsor of the Year and the Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award recipient. In 2014, he has helped produce 67 Scholastic Arts Northeast Regional Award Winners and 5 National Medalists in Photography. In 2015 he helped produce 84 Scholastic Arts Northeast Regional Award Winners and another Gold & Silver National Medalist in Painting. This year alone his art students earned a total of $2,445,342.00 in Scholarship Offers. Three of the past four years his student artists broke the 2 million dollar mark. These accomplishments in the field of Art 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; playing the role of a Pizza Guy on 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 the gallery for pal Dominic Capone III. 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.
“Bell’s works are often the mirror to a tragic world, but they deepen our humanity through psychology, ghostly brushwork and a personal color palette that draws on memories and silent echoes from the artist’s own dark, turbulent past.” – Martin Cid, Editor in Chief, Yareah International Arts Magazine
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 or guest artist lecturer.
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