Through the art of John Bell Jr.’

The history of Fort Smith’s churches will be highlighted during “Landmark Lessons: Through the Art of John Bell Jr.” at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum.

Representatives from seven area churches will discuss the beginnings of their church as historic images painted by John Bell Jr. are projected onto the large screen in the RAM Community Classroom.

The program opens at 2 p.m. on June 26 and is free and open to the public.

Bell’s impressionist paintings depicting historically accurate scenes of yesteryear in the river valley have become iconic works.

“This program is part of our John Bell Jr. Legacy Project, whose mission is to protect, preserve and educate about the art and life of John Bell Jr.,” said Julie Moncrief, Director of Development.

Bell died in 2013, and in 2021 his family donated all of his remaining art to RAM, along with the intellectual property rights to all of his art.

“Sharing it is a great opportunity to bring fun and education to our community,” Moncrief said.

Featured churches are First United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church, First Lutheran Church, Immaculate Conception Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, and St. Boniface Catholic Church.

Each of Bell’s paintings is a winter scene, emphasizing the welcoming warmth and radiance of the fine institutions that sprang up in the 1800s. As in all of Bell’s paintings of landmarks, community is apparent with the bustle of people, horse-drawn carriages, streetcars and Model Ts in the scenes.

Attendees are invited to arrive at 1 p.m. to view the RAM galleries and enjoy refreshments while watching a Bell video.

Places will be limited for the one-hour program.

More information about the John Bell Jr. Legacy Project can be found at fsram.org/john-bell-jr-legacy-project.

This column is produced by the River Valley Arts Coalition. To send comments or for more information, contact [email protected]

ART THIS WEEK:

Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, 1601 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith; 479-784-2787

  • Feng Zikai: selections from the permanent collection: on view until September 11.
  • Shabana Kauser: Dupatta – Journey of life and cultural identity: on view until September 11.
  • Future School Art Exhibition – Bridge to the Future: on view until August 28.
  • Doyle Young Painted Stories: Reflections of Southern Days Gone By: On view through September 25.
  • Without registration and draw: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Thursday; register at fsram.org/education.
  • RAM Sketch: 7-8 p.m. every Tuesday, register at fsram.org/education.
  • RAM Saturdays: register at fsram.org/education.

UAFS Gallery of Art and Design, 535 N. Waldron Road, Fort Smith; 479-788-7542

  • Highlights from the permanent collection of the UAFS Gallery of Art and Design: Works on Paper: On view until August 26.

Arts on Main, 415 Main St., Van Buren; 479-474-7767

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