Cocktails & Creeps: The Art Of Mike Bell
Tentacles around my heart
Admittedly, of the those of us at the office at Swellco & Swellco, I am without question the resident Philistine of the crew. When people talk about art, my eyes glaze over. Whenever they talk about “important artists,” I chuckle and try to navigate myself away from of the air of imposed importance. If we accept ‘art’ as “a process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect,” then as far as ‘great artists’ are concerned, I think of Edward Bernays, Milton Erickson, Karl Rove, Larry Flynt, Benny Hinn… Fuck, even though I think Glenn Beck is a tremendous douchebag, I still think he’s a great ‘artist’.
That being said… perhaps I don’t know art, but I know what I like. And I like the work of New Jersey artist Mike Bell. Bell mashes together images of old school monsters, cocktails, tattoos, fezzes, and bikini-clad women, all in a low brow style a simple man like myself can appreciate.
Born and raised at the Jersey Shore – Mike Bell’s art blends an aura of nostalgia and humor, combined with vivid color and a combination of influences. Japanese cartoons, classic monsters, vintage toys, punk rock, carnivalesque images, MAD magazine and Big Daddy Roth are among the cultural forces that have shaped his art. The juxtaposition of counter culture imagery with modern day influences are the blueprint for Mike’s canvases.
By the way, if you’re in or Near Philly, the Black Vulture Gallery, located at 208 E Girard Avenue in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, is having a showing of his work Friday, May 6 · 6:00pm – 11:30pm called Cocktails & Creeps. Complimentary booze and “horror d’oeuvres” provided. Check it out.