Charlie Bell Clown
You sometimes hear people joking about running away to join the circus. Charles Chase (aka Charlie Bell) did just that. When he was just seven years old, Charlie fled his hometown of Barnesville, Ohio to work as an acrobat with a medicine show. He began using the name “Bell,” the last name of the medicine show’s owner.
A talented performer, Bell’s early acrobatic feats included somersaulting from a springboard over a “small” herd of elephants. Bell joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1921 and remained there until he retired 35 years later. Bell’s act often included his dogs Trixie and Honey Boy, whom he would sometimes dress up to look like other animals like a fox or a tiny elephant. If you watch Cecil B. DeMille’s Greatest Show on Earth, you can see Bell in action.
Clown Charlie Bell was painted by Lori Escalera. It is based on a painting by the American artist Arthur Sarnoff. Sarnoff was a versatile artist who painted everything from portraits of John F. Kennedy and Bob Hope to images used for advertising products like Vick’s Vapo Rub and Lucky Strikes to clowns such as Charlie Bell.
Notes from the Artist:
Lori Escalera comments that "This is a painting originally painted by Arthur Sarnoff. You know Arthur, he painted the very famous paintings of the dogs playing poker and pool. It is of a famous Ringling Clown who lived in Sarasota."
Lori Anne Escalera A native Los Angelino, Lori centered her artistic life Southern California. She has had a full career as a corporate advertising graphic designer working with aerospace, advertising, institutional and manufacturing firms. In 1981, at the age of 23, she started her own business. In 1994, Lori organized "The Culver City A.R.T. Group,” serving as its President, as well as “BCR” (environment, community, arts Nonprofit). Lori’s interests shifted away from commercial interests towards fine Art. focus revolved around the figure. Lori questions the artist's place in the continuum of art history, as well as contemporary cultural beliefs in a relationship to history and myth. Lori is a cross medium artist and exhibits her art on paper, canvas, ceramic or in the street. Her work takes on an energy and vibrancy that refreshes the spirit and enlivens the imagination.
Since 1994, Lori has enjoyed participating in many Street Painting festivals in the USA, Canada, China and Mexico, helping raise money and awareness for many causes. She is a professional and award winning Madonnari Street Painter. Lori was an inaugural “Featured Artist” at the 2007 International Sarasota Chalk Festival, and featured pavement artist in 2008 Xian China pre-Olympic festivities. In 2012, 2014 and 2015 she participated as part of an international team of artists on three projects for The Chalk Festival, designed by Kurt Wenner (two of which entered Guinness World Record Projects for the Largest Anamorphic Street Painting).
Over the years, Lori has instructed hundreds of children and adults her ideas about art history, drawing and painting, through cultural arts programming, museum classes, art camps, and private lessons. She has led the creation of several community murals in Southern California, working with community groups and the underserved. Many of these murals provide vocational training for youth allowing local residents to combat community deterioration. https://www.google.com/maps/d/...
Lori writes and speaks on Art. Her paper on Gender, Art Ideology and Neuro-aesthetics (TRAC 2015 Proceedings – published in “As It Is”); Pavement Art as Fine Art Canon (TRAC 2018 proceedings); The Occident, The Orient and The Odalisque – Reimagined (TRAC 2019 proceedings).
Education: B.A. Design Communication Cum Laude SDSU; A.A.: WLAC, Commercial Art Certification/A.A.: LATTC; Humanities Minor: DHSU
Video documentary about Lori:
"I am eager to return to Florida every year! Traveling for artmaking is integral to my work as an artist. Engaging with new communities is a pleasure. No matter where in the world I travel, learning about other communities enriches me. The research and preparation for the artwork excite me. My mind runs wild as I take in fascinating information about historic people and places. It makes the fabric of my own existence more textured in the process adding to the vocabulary in my visual artmaking. When I was asked to participate, after a year of COVID isolation, I was nervous. Could I do it at age 64? Could I get back in the street, muster the elements (it was over 90˚!), and do a good job? I’ve had multiple joint replacements in the past decade and I was afraid. I am grateful that the “Avenue of Art” staff helped me make extra preparations to succeed. One striking thing is of the many people who stop by to appreciate the art and share their fears about their own artmaking. There is fear of sharing our inner identity thinking that who we are is not “good” enough to find acceptance."
Nanette Crist is a retired lawyer who began blogging when she moved to Florida. It was an online diary of sorts, a way to keep track of her new life. It was also a good way to share her discoveries with friends and family outside the area. Over time, Nanette realized her writing makes her experience the world differently. She keeps an eye out for interesting things to write about and then delves more deeply into them as she crafts her words. It's all about telling the story. Nanette's blog can be found at http://nanettesnewlife.blogspot.com.
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