John Bell: Utah’s Urban Master

Posted: January 7, 2012 in Artist's Corner
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JOHN BELL. Oh say can't you see?, Acrylic on canvas, 2008. 60" x 64"

Contemporary art forces us to ask questions about the role of art within our lives, about society, and about ourselves.  John Bell’s painting presents a perfect example by offering an unexpected representation of America.  The title references “The Star-Spangled Banner,” America’s national anthem.  When we think about the national anthem, we think of sporting events, Fourth of July festivities, and elementary-school presentations.  Yet, baseball, hot dogs, and singing children don’t appear in this painting.  Instead we see a fragmented flag, guns, and scenes of frivolity alongside images of potential violence.  This work offers a grown-up appraisal of issues surrounding America’s policies and appearances, both at home and abroad.  What does Bell’s work inspire us to consider about our identity as Americans?

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