"The Official Louisiana State Painting"

painted by


 Johnny O. Bell was born with an abundance of natural artistic ability. Following in the footsteps of his father
 who applied his artistic talent to the trades of diesinker and toolmaker, Bell used his talents professionally
 and became a renowned commercial artist. Raised in Michigan, the Westfield, Massachusetts, native was  commissioned to do works of art throughout the United Sates, especially along the East Coast, throughout
 the Western states and in the Southeastern quadrant of the United States.

 Accomplished in layout and spatial design, Bell was highly sought by those in need of a professional letterer.  During World Was II, his talents caught the attention of U.S. Army officials. He became the “artist in  residence” in his company and was assigned all artistic responsibility including map drawing.

 After his military discharge in 1943, Bell married Margaret Thompson and the couple settled in Kosciusko,  Mississippi where he opened a sign company. In 1955, the Bells and their three children relocated to Baton  Rouge, Louisiana, where he founded Bell Advertising and Murals.

 Although Bell experimented with many artistic techniques, he is best known for his mural art. Beginning in
 the 17th century, vividly colored oils on canvas, such as those used in “Louisiana” the official state painting,  became characteristic of mural paintings. A palcolithic art form, mural painting experienced a surge in  popularity in the 20th century due in part to a growing trend toward social realism. The works of many of the  mural artists employed by the Work Projects Administration in the 1930’s and 1940’s still adorn courthouses  and other public places throughout the United States. Bell applied his expertise in mural painting in the design  and implementation of what he envisioned would best represent the diverse and unique nature of the state of  Louisiana on canvas. The stylized figures and motifs used in the composition portray the history and culture
 of Louisiana and its people from earliest times to the present.

 Because of his contribution to the state and in recognition of his exceptional artistic achievements, Johnny O.  Bell was named Honorary State Artist Laureate by Governor Murphy J. “Mike” Foster two years after the  completed work “Louisiana,” was declared the Official State Painting.


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