By Angela Romeo

Robert Bell comes to the desert with a ready smile, a bit of the midcentury vibe, a bit of the tiki lounge sensibility, a bit of the rockabilly thing and a whole lot of artistry. Or, as Robert is oft to quote Garrison Keillor, “Where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are above average.”

As a child, Robert moved frequently. “We were a bit nomadic. We lived in various places in Minnesota and Washington. That type of lifestyle cause one to see the world differently. The things people take for granted in an area were also very new to my eyes. I think my photographer’s eye development stated then.”

“We were living in Austin, Minnesota. Austin was settled along the Cedar River. It is home to two lakes, East Side and Mill Pond. Did I mention both are man-made? Austin is probable better known as SPAM Town USA, the home of Hormel Food Corporation. And way – it was in high school in Austin that really began to explore photography.”

“I began when people shot film. I would shoot and develop. With film three is always that moment when you wonder if you capture the shot or not. Digital means I can look at the photo seconds after I shoot. There is no guessing. No mystery.”

“After High School I attended Dakota County Vocational School, in Rosemount, Minnesota. The two-year Photographic Technology course they offered was more technical and less art focused. But knowing the how made the process easier. I knew the limitations of the camera and the eye. I learned how to move past those limitations. Most importantly, I had two years of with film and paper!”

The weather in Minnesota can be harsh in the winter. “While I was attending school the winter temperature hit 100 below 0. I thought it was time to seek someplace warmer. I headed west – Seattle and embarked on a series of jobs. From office drone, waiter, and custom cabinetry and to Licensed Massage Therapist, I worked and shot photos. I traveled and shot. The consistent thing was always photography.”

“Being a bit nomadic, traveling always fascinated me. Each place is full of never sights for me to capture. I have been fortunate to have traveled to Europe, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Cayman Island and Cuba. I have also traveled the Western US. All along I take, you guess it, photos!”

“When I moved to Palm Springs, I was captivated by what I saw. The mid-century, tiki vibe is nothing compared with the friends I have made here. I work as a massage therapist and photographer. The area has been good to me.”

“Bill and Andy at Townie Bagels have given me a very public space to show my work. My first show here in Palm Springs CarArt revolved around the artistic details of classic American cars of the past. My latest show, And Now for Something Completely Different, is currently at Townie Bagels. In this show I concentrate less on cars and nature and more on moments of life. Small details that are often overlooked make for powerful photographs.”

“I have been many things over my life. My art is a reflection of all those things. And Now for Something Completely Different helps prove that very point! Life is a journey that I reflect in my photo.”

For more information about Robert, contact him at And Now for Something Completely Different is currently at Townie Bagel, 650 E Sunny Dunes Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92264.