My name is Andy Bell, and I'm a well trained and fairly established artist with strong studio practices. I'm a bit of an academic. I obsess over history and can't help but share my findings with my students. That's why I'm a teacher.
Two years ago I emailed the website of deceased modern artist named John Stritch. I meant to pay my respects to a deceased member of my community- and inspiration of mine early in my career. I was shocked when his widow responded to me through his webmaster- who has been keeping the site up since he passed, just five years ago. She invited me to her house to see his work in person for the first time.
I was invited into his studio. A space no other human had entered since his passing. I began looking through, organizing and documenting his work. His life's story is INCREDIBLE. His work is strong. He left everything I would need to write his biography. I dove straight in.
As I began working I realized that his work across the greater region still exists in public and private collections, and also in public spaces. Sadly the work has been deteriorating for years. Good thing I have a degree in sculpture.
I have been canvassing Massachusetts and working with public institutions like the Williams College Art Museum, the City of Pittsfield, and several outdoor gallery settings to maintain and repair John's work. I tell everyone I know that I am the assistant of a deceased modern artist. The first question is "how do you get paid?" I don't get paid. I have been reviving the legacy of a deceased artist out of pocket for over two years.
Why? John Stritch was a leading steel abstract expressionist from the 1960's through the 1990's, and a well known posters designer, painter and printmaker. I looked up to him tremendously growing up. As an artist, John Stritch is well known regionally. As I see the threads of this artist's legacy begin to unravel... I just CAN'T sit by and watch. Someone has to save this stuff, and let everyone know.
Funded by Boston, MA (March 2020)