100 Colorado Creatives: Terri Bell, artist/gallerist at tbellphotographic

Terri Bell, "Self Portrait."
Terri Bell, "Self Portrait."

#81: Terri Bell

Terri Bell has been busy in 2013, changing hats constantly as an artist, photographer, curator and gallerist. But that's all part of being Terri Bell, whose middle name could easily be "Industry." This month alone, she's participated in Month of Photography 2013 in just about every way possible, curating one show at CORE New Art Space; presenting her own work in another, Sensual Fiction, at Bardo Coffee House through April 1; and hosting yet another, the guest-juried it's all here in black and white: 20x13, which opens with a reception on Friday, March 29 in her own tbellphotographic studio | gallery.

See also: - 100 Colorado Creatives: Mark Sink, photographer and arts booster - 100 Colorado Creatives: Mario Zoots, collagist and multimedia artist - 100 Colorado Creatives: Feminism & Co. co-curator Elissa Auther

Terri Bell, "blue," from the "eros centric" series, photographic collage.
Terri Bell, "blue," from the "eros centric" series, photographic collage.

Intrigued by all this activity, we asked Bell -- who, for pleasure, still finds time to collect and study dozens of images from the Internet each day -- to answer our 100CC questionnaire. Following are her thoughts on local arts, culture and what makes Terri Bell tick.

Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?   Terri Bell: Without a doubt, Andy Warhol.  I'm a huge fan.  He was so creative in multiple mediums, and was not afraid to be different, take risks, or be controversial.  He was very open to technology and its influence on art.  In the last few years of his life, he embraced the idea of computer-generated art, and I wish he would have lived to utilize all that is available now. I like that he emphasized the importance of the business of art as much as the creation of art, and blended the two together beautifully. There wasn't really an art side/business side for Andy, it was all wrapped up together into one huge statement.  I also admire his leadership qualities and ability to influence others, in spite of a rather introverted communication style. 

Terri Bell, "flutter," from the "natural order" series, photographic collage.
Terri Bell, "flutter," from the "natural order" series, photographic collage.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

I'm not sure if I'd call this a trend, but one thing I would love to see disappear is the controversy between those who support film photography over digital photography, as both are tremendous art forms. I'd also be happy if the Photoshop "stigma" would disappear. Creating computer art, whether photo-based or not, is a skill that still gets a bad rap for creating airbrushed/deceiving images, or being nothing more than an easy trick -- just a couple of keystrokes and voila!, which of course is not the case. For me, the computer is essential to every aspect of my current art-making. I view it as a tool, the means to an end, and no different than using a ruler or masking tape to ensure a straight line. It's a complicated discipline which requires as much skill as more traditional art forms. At least the lines are beginning to blur when it comes to these controversies. It's better now than even just a few years ago, and I hope that trend continues.

Continue reading for more from Terri Bell.   What's your day job?

I pretty much live and breathe art on a (more than) full-time basis these days, which is something I've always dreamed of, and feel lucky to be doing now.  

Terri Bell, "kabuki" from the "kabuki" series, photographic collage.
Terri Bell, "kabuki" from the "kabuki" series, photographic collage.

A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

Find a fantastic Denver space to open an art gallery that is large enough to feature solo and invitational group shows, in addition to having a diverse, year-round open-call schedule. It's pure joy to show the work of others, and especially to introduce new artists to the scene through open-entry shows. It's great to show an artist's work for the first time, and then find out later that person found confidence through that exposure and has gone on find success with their art. Although it may sound cliché, this is rather a "pay it forward" goal of mine. I have experienced a lot of support from various people and venues as I worked to get my own art out there into the world, and I like very much being able to support other artists now, in my own small way. 

Continue reading for more from Terri Bell.   What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?

This question suggests that government be more involved with promoting the arts, and I agree that would be great.  Realistically, though, I don't see that happening in the near future. What we do have in Denver and Colorado, though, is a very strong arts community, which makes for a supportive environment for artists. So, that's a good thing that's already happening.  I think the limited amount of government funding available for arts programs right now, should primarily be directed to arts programs in the public schools. I think it's interesting that there are public art laws on the books, such as the 1% programs which require that a portion of capital construction projects be devoted to public art, and yet there's no mandated funding formula for arts in the public schools. I'm happy about the public arts law, and wish that a similar priority was in place for public school arts education programs. 

Terri Bell, "scrutiny" from the "eros centric" series, photographic collage.
Terri Bell, "scrutiny" from the "eros centric" series, photographic collage.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

Mark Sink is my favorite creative and role model. First, he's an amazing artist. I especially love his figurative work with the collodion process and toy cameras. On top of that, he's successful at making a living as an artist, which demonstrates his arts business acumen. And then, in addition to all of that, he has an amazing gift for inspiring, motivating, teaching and mentoring others. He's a fantastic curator, and an extraordinary catalyst when it comes to bringing people together for the good of art, and particularly photographic art. I feel privileged to know Mark and to work with him on MoP and other projects. Mark, is the person who first inspired me to use my studio|gallery as a venue for open-entry shows that provide opportunities for other artists. Oh! And, Mark worked with Andy Warhol for a time when he lived in New York, which is also pretty cool.   What's going on for you in 2013? 

I started 2013 by jumping off the high dive and straight into the deep end of the pool, so to speak, as the first of this year meant gearing up to organize two international photography show calls for MoP: "time capsule" at CORE New Art Space and "it's all here in black and white: 20x13," a rather ambitious project which involved a thirteen-member jury panel.  In addition to those projects, I developed two small bodies of work for invitational shows that opened in February and March, and was fortunate to have work selected for the "Art of the State" show at the Arvada Center, which has been on display since January. So, all of that has been keeping me really busy, and I'm currently looking forward to a small hiatus from shows, once the "20x13" show closes. I plan to devote the next several months to creating a new body of work for my upcoming show at CORE New Art Space, which will open this fall on October 24. That's the current plan, anyway, but I'm always open to possibilities...

Throughout the year, we'll be casting our radar on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.

Who rocks your world locally? Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.

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