Beck’s legacy hangs on walls, shows in work of studentsPublished 11:03am Friday, January 18, 2013
Artist, teacher and art organizer are a few hats Charles Beck can claim to wear.
Beck, who began teaching art at M State Fergus Falls in 1960. He retired after 27 years and has influenced many artists and co-workers during his time at the school.
He has also left his mark in the arts community, where his work has become recognized in many areas.
Warren Olsen, who has known Beck since the 1960s and is the curator of art at M State, said he knew of Beck’s art before he knew Beck himself.
“I met him when I came to teach here years ago. However I could say I met him in a different way,” Olsen said. “There used to be a little art gallery in the basement of a store downtown. I was going to go and look at the gallery and there was this beautiful winter scene woodcut hanging on the way down to the gallery. It really struck me and impressed me, and that was the first time I heard the name Charles Beck.”
Olsen said he taught English at the college and got to know Beck because they worked in the same building and he was interested in art.
“He was a very good teacher and he influenced a lot of students. Some have gone on to become artists in their own right,” Olsen said.
One of those artists is Scott Gunvaldson, who studied under Beck in the early 1970s. Gunvaldson said he took some more classes after his time at the college until the early ’80s.
“He was a teacher, a mentor and an artistic father,” Gunvaldson said.
Gunvaldson said he liked the fact Beck was not just a teacher, but a working artist at the same time. He added that Beck’s work was an influence on him.
“If people like anything about my art they should thank Charles Beck,” Gunvaldson said.
Another former student and friend of Beck’s is artist Chuck Christianson.
“I’ve known Charlie since the late 1970s and since then we’ve become friends,” Christianson said. He’s a mentor to me and a pretty amazing guy. He’s been producing art for about six and a half decades. He’s probably best known for his woodcuts. He also paints.”
Christianson said the quality of some of Beck’s prints are incredible.
“I really believe that if you take his best work, it would look good next to some of the best woodcuts ever produced,” Christianson said.
Christianson added was also a big part of getting the historical museum going.
“He certainly is an inspiration. His dedication and his work ethic … he still produces. He’s stuck to it. He’s in his 1990s and he’s still producing,” Christianson said.
Beck is a humble guy, according to Christianson, and thinks his art could be more well known outside of Minnesota.
“The thing about Charlie, I think, if he perhaps had a studio in New York, he’d probably be much more nationally known,” Christianson said. “Someday his work may, especially some of his woodcuts, be much more recognized than they are now. But regionally they’re very well known.”
Olsen said Beck still is active in the art community in Fergus Falls.
“He’s very generous in using his gifts in the community and for young artists,” Olsen said.
Beck has left his mark in association to the college, said Olsen.
“I think one reason we have an art department is because he laid the ground work for it,” he said. “ He’s a good friend and is at the heart of the art programs in Fergus Falls.”
The Kaddatz Gallery will host a public reception Saturday, Jan. 26 from 2 to 5 p.m. in honor of Charles Beck’s 90th birthday.