Monday, May 14, 2012

George Bellows, A Painter, 1882-1925, part one

George Bellows’ parents came from Sag Harbor, down on the end of Long Island, New York. Bellows’ father, who came to Ohio in 1850 by canal boat, was known as “Honest John" and he was a contractor. He built the Franklin County Courthouse. The Bellows family lived on Rich Street and George had the great American boyhood. The real love of his youth was baseball, in the day when baseball was the national sport. He was a hero in his neighborhood and he seriously considered turning professional, which would have been the end of him as a painter. Bellows painted a lot of sports scenes but not a single baseball picture, perhaps because the game is too spread out, except for the group at the plate. He was brought up on the Near East Side of Columbus, now known as Downtown, in those days a haven of tranquility, with a double row of elms the length of Broad Street. George never got along with his old man; what does a man in his sixties have to say to a teenaged boy? He did what he wanted and his mother saw to that. He was a great “Hey Ma” boy and he kidded her a lot. She was a strong-minded woman and George married a strong-minded woman. When Bellows went to the Ohio State University, it really was a college in a cornfield. Everybody knew everybody and sports were everything, which they still are. But he was too much the artist to be satisfied at the university. He became a leading cartoonist for the college yearbook and to this day, the walls of the Beta House are lined with Bellows’ drawings of football heros and prom queens. George Bellows stayed at the Ohio State University until his senior year, then left for New York. His mother wanted her boy to do whatever he wanted and he did. Mahonri Sharp Young Former director of the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, 1973

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