Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Living legend

by Jacinta Macheel Zens | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Arts | July 12th, 2017

At 94 years old, acclaimed regional printmaker Charles Beck continues to work on artworks every day. Although he has had to stop his daily printmaking practice and now lives in a nursing home, Beck has not been detoured from continuing to create art.

Instead of printmaking, Beck now uses acrylic paint and ink to create colorful images of nature that are inspired by his memories of places in Otter Tail County and the Red River Valley.

Before his stroke several years ago, Beck would routinely drive around the winding, hilly roads that crisscross throughout Otter Tail County. These back roads provide breathtaking views of the landscape around every bend, as anyone who has been to Otter Tail County can attest. Charles relies on his memories of those countless county highway drives for his creative inspiration.

Born in Fergus Falls in 1923, Beck knew early on that he wanted to be a professional artist. From a young age, Beck would spend innumerable hours drawing cowboys and Indians. This love of drawing is what led him to pursue his career in art.

After graduating from high school, Beck joined the Navy where he served as a fighter pilot in WWII. After the Navy, Beck took advantage of the GI bill and went to Concordia College, where he studied under American regionalist painter Cyrus Running. Running exposed Beck to the concepts and practices of the American Regional modern art movement, in which regional landscapes were used as subject matter for artworks. After his time at Concordia, Beck went to the University of Iowa where he received his MFA.

Unlike other artists of the era who flocked to New York to be part of the international art scene, Beck returned to Fergus Falls to continue his art practice there. He began work as sign painter upon returning home. Due to a lack of art gallery space in Fergus Falls, Beck would hang his fine art paintings on the walls of his sign painting studio to create a gallery of works for visitors to see.

After several years of experimenting with different styles of painting, Beck felt that he had reached a point where he could no longer evolve as a painter without further training. He then did postgraduate study at the University of Minnesota. There he worked with Post-Impressionist landscape painter Cameron Booth, surrealist illustrator and painter Walter Quirtand,and master printmaker Malcolm Myers.

It was at this time that Beck began to produce his first woodcut prints. He amalgamated all of the styles and techniques that he learned from all of his art teachers and began to produce the modern abstractionist prints that he is now widely known for.

Around this time Beck began work as a part-time art instructor at the Fergus Falls Community College (FFCC) where he worked for nearly 30 years. One of Beck’s legacies is his time at FFCC where he taught classes to regional artists such as painters Chuck Christianson and Scott Gundvaldson. The classes he taught ranged from art history to hand lettering.

I was able to speak with Gundvaldson about his relationship with Beck and it was clear to me that he and Beck are still very close. Scott visits Charles regularly in the nursing home and talks to him weekly.

When speaking with Scott about his relationship with Beck, he is quick to tell you one story after another about humorous antics the two would share. After speaking with Scott for a while, it was clear to see why he once told the HPR that, “Charlie has been my teacher, mentor, and friend for 45 years. It's not out of line to call him my artistic father. When someone compliments me on my own art, they should really be thanking Charles Beck.”

Reverence for Beck is not something that is relegated to his former students. His works have been shown at galleries from the Plains Art Museum in Fargo to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York He has sold work to patrons around the globe and continues to sell work through the various galleries nationally.

Beck is widely considered to be of the “godfathers” of the Arts in the region. Fergus Falls has grown to be a town that puts great importance on the arts thanks in no small part to the influence of Beck. Fergus has multiple arts organizations including the only satellite office outside the Cities of the St. Paul non-profit Springboard for the Arts -- an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists.

Fergus Falls also houses the Lake Region Arts Council, which is the largest arts granting institution in the region, the Fergus Falls Center for the Arts which hosts performing art series in a revamped theatre, in addition to the Kaddatz Gallery.

The Kaddatz Gallery’s mission is to foster visual arts education and appreciation, and to maintain a gallery that celebrates the work of area artists and honors the legacy of Charles Beck. You can ask anyone in the Fergus Falls art community how they were able to build such an art-centric town and everyone will tell you that Fergus Falls would not be where it is today without the foundations that Charles Beck created. His legacy lives on in all of the arts programming coming out of Fergus Falls, just as much as it does in each of his works.

Beck greatly influenced the art scene in Fargo-Moorhead as well. Art patron James O'Rourke and Charles Beck were close friends and collaborators for many years.

The Rourke Art Museum has published several books on Beck’s work and has several pieces of his work in their permanent collection.

The Plains Art Museum held an exhibition of his work in 2012 which honored his life as a regional creative catalyst and also has several of Beck’s pieces in their permanent collection.

To see Beck’s newest works, visit Kaddatz Gallery in Fergus Falls. An exhibition of his newest works runs through July 31st. For more information about the exhibit, please contact the Kaddatz Galleries at 218-998-4405.




Recently in:

FARGO – Two of the three Somali-American women threatened with murder two days ago by a white woman outside a local Walmart, met their attacker Thursday afternoon at the Fargo Police Department, and left in friendship.“We…

Culture

​The Dark Net

by Chuck Solly

Did you know that there is a backside to the Internet? I guess we all have backsides, don’t we? The backside of the Internet has many functions, none of which you can access from Google. Dark Net sites are just like normal web…

Thursday July 27, 5pmDowntown CasseltonTake a day trip and cruise down to Casselton. Free car show, 50/50 raffle, cash, prizes, fun galore and just maybe an engine blow up. Hot rods on hot sod? Count us in. Hosted by the Swanks,…

Editorial

Who asked you?

by Sabrina Hornung

Our opinion: You cannot fool all the people all the time, unless they are from North Dakota.This week Gallup poll reported that at 59% North Dakota has the second largest Trump approval rating in the nation, nipping at West…

A reasonable conclusion: “We should have killed our baby.”For some unfathomable reason, some people think they are immortal, that death is not a part of life. Our culture tends to teach us to avoid the topic of death as if it…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

On a sultry Thursday night, I sauntered into Luna. Situated on South University next to Bernie’s Beer and Wine, it isn’t exactly a hole in the wall, but it is certainly off the beaten path, and as described by their motto it is…

Most of us only hear about world records secondhand. Many might think they’re not up to the challenge, others might not see the point of breaking one, and others just read about them in books and think of them as an exotic…

Luc Besson’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” -- touted as the costliest independent motion picture ever made -- simultaneously melts eyeballs with its gorgeous visuals and narcotizes brains with its stiff…

Within the borders of North Dakota lie many worlds that are each expressing themselves in traditional art and culture. During his time as the state folklorist, Troyd Geist has been documenting a diverse array of cultural identities…

Summer Arts Intensive performs main stage musicalUnder the summer sun, something’s begun, taking over those summer nights. The 1978 movie and musical hit Grease is taking stage as part of the Summer Arts Intensive in West Fargo.…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Minnesota is certainly well known for being a hotspot for craft brewing. While most of the action has been centered around the Minneapolis metro area, yet another brewer from the Northern part of the state has decided to bring its…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

“…the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” – Milan Kundera“It may seem kind of bleak to say that the future of our planet rests in large part on the consciences of Republican…