Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Local Artists, Local Inspiration

by HPR Contributor | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Arts | January 16th, 2019

Woodcut by Charles Beck

By Nataly Routledge

"Snowgeese" for Charles Beck
By Timothy Murphy

The flock is whorled like a translucent shell
and intricate as the tubing of a horn,
its embouchure, the soft foot of a snail
lighting on sand, except the sand is corn,
chisel sloughed and left to build the soil
from which indebted farmers have been torn.
I catch one note—a wild, wayfaring cry
as snow geese splash into a glacial mere.

Framed by moraines under a nacreous sky,
they echo in the chambers of my ear.
How does an ear rival your artist's eye
that sees what I can only hope to hear?

Starting last weekend, a collection of Charles Beck’s woodcuts went on display at the Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead, Minnesota. The series of woodcuts were in the ownership of the late poet Timothy Murphy, an avid fan of Beck. Both men were from Minnesota and were fond of the landscapes and cultures of the Midwest.

Beck studied at Concordia College and produced art inspired by his hometown Fergus Falls for decades. His art has been displayed at various points in time at the Rourke Art Museum since the 1960s. Sculptures, woodcuts, paintings—Beck would go out in his pickup truck with oil paints and then complete quick sketches of his surroundings.

Murphy grew up in Moorhead and went to Yale where he stood out for his artistic focus. He wrote poetry that was deeply rooted in the Midwest culture and pastimes. Eventually, he was inspired by the art of Beck as well, incorporating select woodcuts into his published poetry collections.

The museum will be displaying seven of Murphy’s poems alongside Beck’s woodcuts in the museum. Along with these displays, copies of Murphy’s publication Set the Ploughshare Deep: A Prairie Memoir are on the shelf in the entryway of the museum. This publication uses one of Beck’s woodcuts as cover art and several other pieces as illustrations scattered throughout the poems.

A total of 24 woodcuts from the Murphy collection are on display. “It was important to him that these images he collected continued to live together as a cohesive collection,” commented Jonathan Rutter, the executive director of Rourke’s Art Museum.

Beck’s woodcuts focus primarily on color. The scenes are primarily depictions of Minnesota, taking the flat and humble landscapes and accentuating their beautiful hues. “He’s definitely the foremost colorist in the annals of our regional history,” Rutter said of Beck’s attention to color.

In order to achieve the rich colors found in each art piece, Beck often used multiple woodcut blocks, making meticulous attention to detail a must.

If you are curious about more of Beck’s work, upstairs in the museum several of Beck’s bird sculptures are currently on display as well. Each bird is a local species he encountered in his time in nature. The shapes and textures of the birds are simplified, allowing the colors of the birds to be prioritized in a way that is often looked over in nature.

The scenes of Beck’s woodcuts are ones that are familiar to those who have lived in the region for a while. Having the woodcuts and poems displayed at the Rourke Museum is a great tribute to the outdoor scenery that both Murphy and Beck drew years of inspiration from. Their muses were none other than their daily surroundings in the region that they held dear.

Other pieces of Beck’s work are on display periodically at the museum. The current woodcut display will be available until February 10th. Copies of Murphy’s poetry publications can be found at various Fargo Public Libraries.


Artist + Muse: 24 woodcuts by Charles Beck from the Timothy Murphy Collection

Friday, January 18, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

The Rourke art gallery and museum, 521 Main Ave, Moorhead

Recently in:

After nearly two and a half years since the people of North Dakota voted to pass the Compassionate Care Act into law in the state, medical marijuana is finally available to patients. Only one dispensary is open right now, but seven…

It was an, “aha,” moment, said Jeremy Jensen. A woman had her vehicle towed into the Fix It Forward Auto Care shop in Moorhead. Jensen and fellow Fix It Forward Auto Care co-founder Matt Carlson had the vehicle on a hoist…

Thursday, April 18, 5-9 p.m.Drekker Brewing Company, 1666 1st Ave N, FargoThe folks at Drekker have partnered with a handful of area artists and the Lend A Hand Up program. A program providing help and hope to families facing…

In 2016, the Rand Corportation’s National Defense Research Institute published a year-long study looking at potential consequences for transgender members to serve within the U.S Military. This study looked at seven different…

The Nordic ModelDr. Thea Hunter, a graduate of Columbia University and an adjunct professor of history at a number of elite colleges and universities, recently died at age 63 of extreme capitalism—and asthma—because of lack of…

Cocktail Showdown

​Yo ho ho!

by Sabrina Hornung

Well shiver me timbers. After weeks of sampling some of the finest drinks in F-M from more bars than we could shake a belaying pin at, the results of High Plains Reader’s 6th Annual Cocktail Showdown are in! For nine weeks,…

After three years Jon Beyer aka “Jonny B” has become the face and the beard behind Jonny B’s Brickhouse in Jamestown North Dakota. Besides the largest selection of craft beers between here and Bismarck, wood-fired pizzas and…

By Gary Usseryusseryg@gmail.comFYB. Three letters, three words, well known by the guys who make up Cascades, and anyone who is a fan of the five-man band. When asked what genre best describes their sound, I was bombarded with at…

Harmony Korine keeps a tight grip on his title as one of the most critic/critique-proof filmmakers of recent times with “The Beach Bum,” a sultry companion piece to 2012’s memorable “Spring Breakers.” Not without its own…


​Hold your head high

by Sabrina Hornung

“I started to look around at state arts council positions because I felt that even though I had never done that, I felt like it would be a really good blend of skills, so I started to look around in 2016. A few jobs came up but I…

Countless examples can be found throughout the history of great art that was only recognized as such after the life of the artist that created it. Such is true of Georges Bizet’s opera "Carmen."  While its reception during his…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comThink & Drink is coming to Fargo! Organized by Humanities North Dakota, Think & Drink is a happy hour series that hosts a facilitated public conversation about big issues and ideas. Lead by a…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

It seems like the threats to North Dakota’s Badlands never cease. Let’s go back and revisit Wylie Bice. He’s the rogue, rich, rancher up in Dunn County, on the eastern edge of the Badlands, who’s built himself a private…