Welcome to the QuadCities.com Virtual Art Gallery! In this feature, we’re spotlighting area artists and their work. Every Tuesday we’ll feature a new local artist.

It’s free and our way of showcasing awesome area artists and allowing them to include a link to their own online gallery or patreon!

If you’d like to be included in the gallery, just send your bio, a headshot pic of yourself and up to a half-dozen .jpgs of your art to Sean@QuadCities.com.

We look forward to adding YOU to the gallery!

Self portrait by Leslie Bell

Today’s artist is, most definitely, a local legend on the art scene. He’s one of the most popular and most accomplished artists in the Quad-Cities, and he’s one of my favorite local artists and personalities — Leslie Bell.

Here’s Les’ bio:

Leslie Bell was born in 1947 in Duke Ellington’s hometown of Washington D.C. and grew up in the galleries and museums there. He studied with Christian Brothers in high school, ran track and cross-country and watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

Mr. Bell came to the Midwest in 1965 to study art with Father Edward Catich, the world-renowned calligrapher, epigrapher and graphic designer, at St. Ambrose University. He received his BA in art in 1972. His MA and MFA in painting are from Northern Illinois University, where he studied with Walter Ball and Richard Beard.

His artwork has been displayed in one-person shows at many universities and galleries from coast to coast and has been represented in galleries in Chicago, Atlanta, Tampa, Des Moines and the Quad Cities.

Mr. Bell’s work has been figurative for 15 years and tells stories of love, education, longing and nature. Jerry Cullum, editor of Art Paper and critic for Art in America has said, “His recent paintings are a rare combination of vision, skill and wit.” “The stories are enacted in brilliantly composed landscapes amid stunning effects of light.” “Bell’s imagination has created not just magical realism, but real magic.”

His awards include a fellowship in painting from Arts Midwest/NEA, the Special Recognition Award, best in painting, from the Des Moines Art Center in their Iowa Artists show, two first prize and purchase awards from the Davenport Museum of Art, and grants from the Iowa Arts Council and Quad City Arts.

Mr. Bell is a founding member of Open Cities Film Society, the Photo Image League and Riverssance Festival of Fine Arts and served as the initial chair of the Artist’s Advisory Council to the Figge Art Museum. He is Professor Emeritus of Art at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa where he lives with his wife, Sara, who is also a painter.

And here’s a sampling of his art:

Cactus Dance

Far From Home

Heroes of the Prairie

Quercus DOMICILES

Northern Lights Dress

The Readthrough

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Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.