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News >  Washington Voices

The Verve: Bellmore has passion with array of outlets

By Jennifer Larue, Jlarue99@Hotmail.Com

Standing outside the northwest Spokane home, it is obvious that an artist lives there.

A piece of wood hangs from the roof of the porch. On it is a hand-painted portrait of a man with the words “music and art” beneath it and, beneath that, a phone number. Another clue is the elaborate birdhouse styled after the home itself, complete with windows, a front porch and trees.

These are John Bellmore’s calling cards.

With an ear for music and an eye for color and composition, Bellmore began his creative endeavors in his early teens in California where he grew up. He began with the piano, then the clarinet and the saxophone. His dad had a guitar on which Bellmore taught himself chords and began writing songs. He also started drawing.

“I’ve just always enjoyed making music and art,” he said.

He came to Spokane to attend Gonzaga University. After graduating with a bachelor’s in music and art, he returned to California and taught music and art for the next few years. After another year of studying sculpture and drawing at Long Beach State University, he returned to Spokane with his wife and daughter.

Change happens. In 1989, he married a woman who is also a musician and an artist. Together, they displayed art and for 10 years, played music regularly at public and private events. A two-person band, the couple performed as Sweet Harmony and Too Fat Blues.

“Though it was just the two of us, we sounded like a five-piece band,” he said. “We both sang and I played an array of instruments.”

For about 15 years, Bellmore gave music lessons in his home. Working with up to 15 students a week, he also made art, which included a series of portraits of characters from John Steinbeck’s stories that were displayed at Spokane Civic Theatre during its run of the play “Of Mice and Men.”

“I did a dozen large pieces in a month for that exhibit,” he said. “The time limit forced me to paint with looser brush strokes.”

His home is decorated with dozens of artworks done by him and his wife, Karen. His works include sculptures of kneeling figures and paintings done in watercolor and acrylic with subjects ranging from figurative to still-lifes and landscapes. Dozens of musical instruments also decorate the home.

Fascinated with philosophy and theology, Bellmore believes that everything is more than what it seems; in his art, he captures depth and emotion in everything from a character in a portrait to a simple cup or patterns seemingly found everywhere.

A member of River Ridge Association of Fine Arts, Bellmore, 67, continues to create art, play instruments and inspire the occasional student. Content doing what he loves, Bellmore said, “The quality of life is much more of a priority than beaucoup bucks.”

The Verve is a weekly feature celebrating the arts. If you know an artist, dancer, actor, musician, photographer, band or singer, contact correspondent Jennifer LaRue by email at

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