For over a century, our region has been home to extraordinary artists. Local Arts Index highlights the work of individuals who continue our community’s rich creative legacy.
Meet photographer, filmmaker and writer David e. Bell.
How Did You Become an Artist?
While I can remember my first camera, a Kodak Pony, and my first pictures with it, a swan nesting in a salt marsh, I really can’t remember much of my life before there was light falling and a camera there to capture it.
I grew up in a house full of photographers. Moments captured on film was the one language we truly had in common, the medium that we could talk about without fear or favor. Everybody’s opinion had value.
Over time photography became more than just remembering the moment.
It became about tasting the light, exploring the stories found in highlights and shadows and triggering long forgotten memories.
What Kind of Art do you Make?
The simple answer would be evocative images created with light or words, ephemeral sculptures created in another person’s mind. You could call me a photographer, a filmmaker, or writer. I think of myself as a storyteller, someone who glories in how light falls, and how it’s texture reveals a story. It’s not the experience on paper I strive for but capturing the moment in our heart. How I do that seems to run at angles departing from the norm.
My dream was to be a photojournalist wandering the world for Life Magazine, and I was born too late for that. So I became an engineer and project manager, working with software and hardware taking ideas and making them real. Having left that phase of my life behind, I have brought that discipline and desire for technical challenge to the art I make and the stories I tell.
And in the process I’ve come to the understanding that story is a not a product, but a walk along a path to a yet undiscovered destination.
What’s Your Muse?
The image itself is the closest thing I have to a muse. There is the one in front of the lens, and the one in my mind. The challenge of capturing the mind image, sometimes so very fleeting is what keeps me going. And that is why I write, to reveal those things the lens cannot see, and image cannot express.
I’m co-producing a movie, about a movie, one never quite took flight and rested for years as rolls of film in boxes. This footage is now preserved in an array of disks sitting on my desk. We’ve located most of the actors, and we are going to bring them back to create a new story, around the creation of the older story.
My longterm project takes me further afield. I am in the process of purchasing a boat that will take me along our coast from the Bay of Fundy to the Mexican border (and perhaps beyond) documenting the relation between civilization and the sea. It is a story about change, and inside the big story there are a hundreds little stories and images full of heroes and villains. It’s their story I aim to tell.
This is not only a solo effort, I am looking forward to meeting collaborators along the way.
And if I weren’t busy enough, my long neglected Fly Fishing in Russia novella is suddenly calling to be finished. The characters are writing up press releases and threatening to go public unless I pay them proper attention. Not exactly what you expect from a pair of Cold War spies.
David e. Bell portrait photo credit: J.A.Wortham
Local Arts Index is sponsored by Maria Luisa, 77 South Broadway and ML Gifts & Accessories, 75 South Broadway, Nyack, NY