Christmas vs. Consumerism. A new interview with American artist Michael Bell in his weekly section on Yareah MBELLART
I.R.- Hi Michael. How is life? Here, at Yareah, we are receiving so many submissions and articles in relation to the upcoming Christmas that it seems Santa Claus is about to come. Funny! Because we are in the first days of November. Do people want to celebrate Christmas with such longing or only shops? How about you? Are these days a good moment to sell paintings or to be with family and friends (maybe both)? I have the feeling that the holidays are associated with consumerism. M.B.- Hi Isabel. I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas – already! At least it feels that way at the stores, and it isn’t even Thanksgiving! I actually just spent some time this weekend taking my son to a huge Christmas trains display. As you know this will be my first Christmas without my Grandmother, Violet. Every Thanksgiving she used to take me into New York City for the day when I was a kid. We’d go to Tavern on the Green for lunch, take a photo by Eloise’s portrait in the Plaza Hotel and we’d hit Rockefeller Center. We’re going to revive that tradition for my son this Thanksgiving in my Grandma’s honor and make it our annual family tradition.
M.B.- As for your question about Christmas, I think the stores are more than ready and I think they’ve even set up earlier than I can ever remember. I literally had to weave my way through the Christmas displays just a few short weeks ago to try and find Halloween costumes! But, for what Christmas represents in humanity, I believe it’s become more important than it ever was. People truly be a “Wonderful Life” again. It’s also a great time to be an artist because we’re in a technological age where artists are always who the world looks to for our innate ability to create something from nothing, as drivers of innovation. The holidays are also a great time for commissions. My top selling works over the past few holidays have been a series of giclee prints of four train paintings I created for my son a few years ago. Those and the annual commissioned portraits I do each holiday for my recession-proof clientele that can afford portraits in the $10,000 – $50,000.00 price range, depending on size and what they want in the painting.
M.B.- Below are a couple of those past “holiday commissions.” On left is a portrait of “The Sopranos” star Joe Gannascoli’s daughter Viviana for their New York home. On right is a portrait of Marianne Kuta, done as a gift for her husband Gil, Sr. V.P. at Capitol Securities Management, and host of CBS’s “On the Money with Gil Kuta”, a weekly radio show Saturdays and Sundays in Baltimore. Want to be immortalized, or give the ultimate gift to someone who has everything? E-mail my studio with your commission ideas and my assistant will gladly get back to you with options and pricing: email@example.com
I.R.- You know, in Spain there is a long tradition of building miniature villages (‘Belenes’) to remember the events of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. I think it’s an artistic tradition with some important masterpieces. I love ‘El Belén’ by Salzillo (18th century) http://www.museosalzillo.es/coleccion/sala-del-belen/ Do you remember some artistic events in relation to Christmas? M.B.- I’m not sure about specific artistic events in relation to Christmas, but I do LOVE those miniature villages. Now, I know for a fact there are few art critics out there that would ever label themselves as fans of, say, Thomas Kinkade’s work for instance, but there’s something to be said about a serene scene around the holidays to take our mind’s eye to a place we truly long to be. While I won’t start painting “the joy of solitude” or some “Norman Rockwell scene” I can appreciate them for what they are. And again, I LOVE those miniature villages. One day I’d like to own a whole villa set against the backdrop of a romantic train station rolling through the Swiss Alps for my son’s own train collection. I.R.- How about your Christmas Tree? Is an artistic Tree or only an excuse to make your child happy (and I understand happiness is very important)? Do you make some artistic decoration at home? M.B.- Well, it’s a little of both. My wife’s the artistic designer behind what our tree looks like each year, and the house is all very tastefully done. No blow-up Santa’s in the front lawn or anything too over the top, but plenty of lights and festive decorations throughout the house. My wife’s made a life-long career in the beauty industry and has done everything from designing fabulous interior showroom floors for events throughout the East Coast to creating numerous staged sets for her own NAVÉ Cosmetics®products. As for our Christmas tree, it’s always a real tree for my son. There’s something about the ritual of going out and getting a live tree that I love. It’s “the experience” of it all that matters to me most. In my art, and in my life. A wise man once said, “At the end of the day, all we have left are our memories. Make as many of them as you can.” – John Gotti Enjoy your week, Michael. Art is everywhere!