In 2002, Bell Richard's career path took an unexpected turn when he rolled his convertible and broke his neck at C5-6. He spent three months on life support. “I had a near-death experience and I saw a lot of colors,” he says in an interview with Jenni Gold of New Mobility. The experience would later inspire one of Bell’s few abstract paintings, titled "Reconciled." But at first, his “new life” did not include art. “After my injury, I didn’t have much use of my arms. I would try to sketch with charcoal, but I was pretty apathetic about it,” he recalls
When Bell first heard about the Beverly Hills artSHOW, which runs twice a year, he wasn’t sure he was ready for such a prestigious show. “It’s a juried show, so what happens is you have to submit eight pieces and then they have a blind jury review your work and determine if you’re worthy to be in the show.” Bell got in the first time he applied. Since then, he’s been selected for two more of their shows. He smiles and notes, “The third time I did that show I actually won a third-place ribbon for best painting!”
Bell is currently working on commission and getting ready for his next group of paintings that he will enter into the Spring 2018 Beverly Hills artSHOW. As he explains, “Most of the work is done before I touch the canvas. I just start thinking about an entire series and then when I get the time to do it I try to knock it out.” Over the last several years, Bell has completed hundreds of paintings, approximately 60 of which are for sale as of this interview.
Recently, Bell displayed his work at Art and Chocolate, a show where chocolates and paintings are equally admired. “Art is subjective and can mean so many different things to different people that you have to appreciate the work that speaks to you.” In such environments, artists of all kinds are often pushed to new boundaries of their art. “I did a live painting during that show.” He mischievously adds, “And hey, dessert’s a food too!”
This past year, the California Rehabilitation Institute converted its first floor into a gallery, which will be open to the public next year to showcase the work of artists with all sorts of disabilities. Eighteen of Bell’s paintings have been chosen to be displayed on rotation, with five of them on display at all times in the main gallery. “It is a tremendous honor,” he says of their patronage. Until then, his work can be seen at rbellart.