JOSEPH S. BELL-BEY
Joseph was born on a farm on February 2nd 1945, in Chester, Maryland, where his family was employed as sharecroppers. Shortly after his birth, the family permanently moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. He is a Vietnam era veteran, worked for The U.S. Postal Service for 34 years where, prior to his retirement in 2006, he served as president of the 1,900 member Brooklyn Local of the American Postal Workers Union.
On March 29, 2005, Joseph was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a massive pituitary adenoma (a benign tumor of the pituitary gland). The tumor shut down most of his hormone production and was so invasive that it reached the optic nerve causing him to lose sight in one eye with impaired vision in the other. He lost thirty pounds in fifteen days as he could not eat and had a constant migraine headache from which he found no relief. When he left his home for the emergency room, he was convinced that he would never return from the hospital. Indeed the medical staff stated that if he had waited one more day, he likely would have slipped into a coma and died. On the third day of his hospitalization, his close friends and family were called and advised to come to see him as soon as possible. Yet, in the wee morning hours of the next day, he had what he describes as an epiphany of biblical proportions and when he awoke on the morning of the fourth day, to the surprise of the medical staff, his friends and family and himself, he was able to eat and drink. He started to slowly regain vision in his eyes, sit up in bed and was able to converse with the very people who, summoned the night before, thought that they were coming to visit him for the last time. From that point forward, he made a miraculous recovery. On the day that he was scheduled for surgery, he was instead released from the hospital on only medication.
On June 24th, 2005, while downtown Brooklyn paying a gas bill, he passed an art supply store. A little voice in his head said, “Go inside and buy stuff.” He did. He came out with brushes, paint, and pads and started to paint that same day. He hasn’t stopped yet. Although an accomplished photographer, he had no previous exposure to the creative art of painting. Since June 24 2005, with the guidance of fellow artists Otto Neals and Karl McIntosh, he has created an impressive body of fine works of art. In October 2005, a mere 4 months after creating his first work of art, Joseph was given his first art exhibition. It was a solo exhibit with noted curator Leon Nicholas Kalas at the Fillmore Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. By his eighth month of painting, Joseph had exhibited at the Dedicator’s Luncheon in Honor of the Black Artist, Dorsey’s Art Gallery’s Holiday Show, York College, The Great Neck Library, The Grace Baptist Church and The Abyssinian Development Corporation. Additionally, Joseph was extremely honored to have given his second solo art exhibit at the historic Dorsey’s Art Gallery, in Brooklyn, New York in March of 2006. A mere 20 months after he first began to paint, Joseph had already been in 21 art exhibitions. His work is in many prominent collections across the country including the permanent collection of the Abyssinian Development Corporation.