Fort Smith High School
Johnny Bell

1960 SWTR Photo, Young Dad at drawing table. Article states, “… through local CP organization and Shrine Club, Johnny attended Joseph M. Hill School for Handicapped Children. Rehab Services did surgery for him to make his arm more useful, purchased wheelchair and provided some college training. (He is) employed by Berkley Models.”

1966 SWAmerican “Handicapped Youth Says He Must Look to Assets” Article tells of speaking as a youth to Lion’s Club members with Arkansas Rehab. Services official. Article states that Dad is a college freshman at the Junior College, that several pieces of artwork on display at the meeting for youth to see. Article discussed ARS Services.

1966 Arkansas Gazette “Individual with CP Making Impressions in World of Business”. Article about people in general with CP in Arkansas. Photo, Dad with fabric designs. Other photos of others with CP. Discussion of work designing fabric, short summary of previous work with Berkley, etc. Discussion of job hunting problems after college.

1968 SWTR Advertisement of the Palette Art Shop and Studio (behind the Art Center). Small photo of Dad at Art Studio and small article about miniature paintings available for sale.

05/1968 Publication Exhibit 26 Art Supplies etc. for sale by art studio behind Fort Smith Art Center.

10/12/69 Tulsa World “Wheelchair Not His Big Problem” Extensive interview regarding Hire the Handicapped Week. Photo showing Dad drawing portraits at Sebastian County Fair. (Discussion of battle to get job with FS school system, etc.)

1969 SWTR Photo Dad on Miss Fort Smith Pageant set. Article states John Bell set designer, theme, “Sentimental Journey”.

1969 SWTR “City Man to Hold Art Show” Article states the show is at Lincoln, Nebraska at invitation by Governor James Exton. “… Bell recently returned from Chicago where presented the President’s Award for Distinguished Service at Annual National UCP meeting.

1970 SWTR “Judging of Art Set for Saturday” Article states judging of art competition in connection with Festival ’70 done in the Westark Union, John Bell is Jaycee Chairman.

1970 SWTR “Handicap no Barrier for City Man’s Talents” Photo, Mom and Dad and Lisa looking at present. Article says of Dad that he received a National Scholastic Art Award, the first for a FS High school student. He was on the Jaycees board of directors, UCP President, National Task Force Committee on Handicapped Teenagers and Adults. Article states, “Artist feels discriminated against in his quest for employment. (He is) attempting to enact legislation to correct that problem.”

1970 SWTR “John Bell to Attend Workshop.” Arkansas Consumer Advisory Council for Rehab Services meeting at Metairie, LA.

1970 SWTR “Plans for Festival ’70” Photo with Dad and two ladies. Article states the festival is an affiliation of Arts and the Jaycees is sponsor. It lists visual and performing arts as included.

03/15/71 SWTR “Winners Told in City Wide Contest” Photo, Dad with two girls. Article states the winners in a city wide art competition selected. (May have been Jaycee sponsored contest?)

01/22/71 SWTR Photo of Chairman of Chamber of commerce looking at Dad’s artwork on display at Municipal Auditorium.

01/24/71 “Jaycees to Aid in Festival” Article states the Jaycees to sponsor several one man art shows. Festival launched on 4/11/71 with tea done at Art Center at Fort Smith. Festival concluded on 5/02/71.

1971 Fort Smith Rodeo Program Center of Program shows John Bell art work.

12/19/71 “Special Car Goal for Bell”. Photo Dad with car model, Dad at work in studio behind art center. Article states “…a car has been designed but getting it produced is another matter … efforts by Western Arkansas Planning and Development to get grants for research. Bell named to 3 year term on Governor’s Advisory Committee for Development Disabilities…” Article states, “Bell related an incident where he and one of his friends were out on the town and his chair ran out of juice in the middle of Towson Ave. He was rescued by two kind policemen.” Article describes car design.

1971 SWTR “Local Artist Picked for Fair” Article states Dad is a graduate of the Famous Artist’s School. Article has good summary of his various projects and showings. (White house conference on handicapped individuals in DC, Nebraska Governor’s Mansion at Lincoln, Jewish Community Center in Memphis, TN, FS Art Center, 7thh Street Gallery in Little Rock, Theater Sets, TV scenery, Church Window designer for Biffer Glass, Fabric Designer for Bob Brooks, special auto designed for the handicapped) Photo showing Dad at desk with train artwork in background.

1972 SWTR “Fort Smith Man Selected for Post”. Article states Dad selected to serve on the Consumer Advisory Council of the State Division of Rehabilitation Services. He was appointed by Commissioner, Russell Baxter.

1972 SWTR “Artist Joins WestArk Facility”. Joined WCC Community Service faculty teaching commercial art.

04/9/72 The Commercial Appeal a Mid South Magazine Article and color photos of paintings. Story of background Dad doing sketches for lunch money at college, etc.

1974 SWTR “Artist’s Wallaby” “Artist’s Wallaby Tries to Answer Transportation needs of the Handicapped” Article discusses car design, describes car based on Oldsmobile Tornado Chassis. Article describes electric car driven by Dad had a 50 mile range only. Discussion of drive in adventure where our family was stranded at the drive-in theater all night. Discussion of grants sought to fund a prototype, discussion of other projects to design a car and the problems with that design. Photo of Dad going down street in wheelchair.

08/10/75 “World of Brick Walls” Article two pages, photos of Dad and Mom at steps, phone booth, broken sidewalk. Article discussed accessibility issues. Large issue is new building at WCC going up with no plans to be accessible. Article states, “Very few human beings, handicapped or otherwise, would lay claim to the sheer, unadulterated guts which have propelled John Bell through life…” Article discusses Dad’s birth situation, crawled everywhere until he got a chair at 10 years old, article states.

06/12/77 SWTR “Art Show Available to the Blind”. Photo showing Dad at desk with two paintings. Dad states, “…had to consider the limitations of others because of the Whitehouse conference on the handicapped…” Article states the woks are displayed at the Art Center, art work with taped description of the work. Article contains a discussion of attitudinal barriers for disabled people looking for jobs.

12/14/77 “Christmas is Sharing” Drawing of hands reaching towards children in center, drawing by Dad.

1978 SWTR Photo, Mom and Dad in grocery, from interview with paper and maybe channel 5 as well.

1978 SWTR Photo, Mom and Dad in grocery store, from interview with paper and maybe channel 5 as well.

1980 SWTR Governor Honors Fort Smith Man” Small article states, “John Bell is recognized by Governor Frank White for his contributions to the community as part of “International Year of the Disabled Person”. States Dad was presented a plaque and a medallion, states Dad works for Willard Mirror Co.

1981 Railtales (National Model Railroad Publication monthly) 31st Midcontinent Regional Convention ’81, June 11-14, Camelot Inn, Tulsa. Paragraph states, “painting and weathering plastic models by John Bell.

08/16/81 SWTR “Handicapped Seek Access Ability” Photo Mom and Mary McClain at City Auditorium curb. Article states modifications of auditorium to make it accessible were blocked with in when funding was blocked. Dad, “We don’t want preferential treatment, we want equal treatment”. Article discusses group of consumers banded together to draw plans to correct barriers in community area with access to public buildings emphasis.

1982 SWTR “UCPA Helps, Educates” Photo Dad with CP George Evans and parents. Article states, “Equipment loans are only part of the program for people in Fort Smith affected by Cerebral Palsey. Funded by the UCPA Telethon….” Article discussed the telethon by Don McGill of Dallas who is the UCP District Director.

03/27/83 Photo Dad with Child and physical therapist, promotion for Kistler Center. Drawings in publication by Dad.

06/25/83 “Family Day at Fort Smith Regional Playground for All Children”. Sketches by Dad for illustration of ad.

04/17/85 SWTR “JC Penney Baby Week”. Dad drew sketches at Fayetteville Pennys for promotional.

Johnny Bell - 2008