Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bruce (Bellas) of Los Angeles (1909 - 1974)

Despite my recent attempts to learn more about Bruce Harry Bellas, the former Chemistry Teacher from Alliance, Nebraska, whom we all now know better as Bruce of Los Angeles, I found there wasn't really all that much out there about him on the Internet and what there is lacks clarity.  My erstwhile Dealers, John Wessel and Billy O'Connor refer to him, in the Catalogue to their final Exhibit at their huge Dumbo Gallery Space, as a Chemistry Professor, which may or may not be a slight inflation of Bruce's initial professional Title; but as far as I know there's no University in Alliance.  Several other Biographies of Mr Bellas place his residence prior to Los Angeles as Omaha (being in the virtual center of the State, while it would better accommodate the possibility of Professorship, it's a long way from the location of Alliance up in its square North West Corner.)  Clearly he left Nebraska, and he did so sometime in the 1940s, though whether early, middle, or late, no one seems able to say.  It's been said that he photographed Rodeo Riders and other attractive Outdoorsmen as he gradually made his way southwest to the great desert City on the Pacific, where he found his true Home and the Name by which he would gain underground Immortality.  Actually, he continued to record the heroics and more mundane aspects of Rodeo Culture throughout his Career, but that was his more private Work.  In fact, my old Friend, Critic, and sometime Patron, Vince Aletti, has edited an especially handsome and large book that deals very well with this aspect of Bellas's Corpus. 




Originally I had planned to organize a single post of Photographs by, and Commentary on, Bruce Bellas, but I gathered more Images than could be presented in one go and so decided to divide them neatly in two.  The following pictures all appear to be pages from the Magazine that Bruce published, The Male Figure.  The Chicano Guy whom Bruce put in Hollywood Indian costume is of course known as John Manning.  In the next post, I'll show some very lovely color photos that belong to the same series from which these were taken.  There will also be some rather pretty Portraits of Joe Dallesandro, who happens to be the handsome fellow holding that big white ring in the final picture down.


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