Published October 27, 2023

Northwest Arts Center presents ‘Artist + Muse’

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The Dakotan
| The Dakotan

Northwest Arts Center release

MINOT – The Northwest Arts Center, located on Minot State University’s campus, presents “Artist + Muse,” woodcuts by Charles Beck from the Timothy Murphy Collection.

The exhibition, organized by the Rourke Art Gallery + Museum in Moorhead, Minnesota, will be on view in the Walter Piehl Gallery through Nov. 25 as it tours through the North Dakota Art Gallery Association.

Beck, born in 1923, was a celebrated printmaker and painter who lived and worked in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. He attended Concordia College in Moorhead in the 1940s where he studied art under Cyrus Running. Beck continued his education at the University of Iowa where he received his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1950 and then returned to Fergus Falls where he worked as a sign painter. In 1953, Beck enrolled at the University of Minnesota where he studied under Cameron Booth, Walter Quirt, and Malcolm Myers. It was here that Beck was first introduced to woodcut prints. Beck joined the faculty at Fergus Falls Community College — now Minnesota State Community and Technical College or M State — in 1960 where he taught for 27 years.

Throughout his life, Beck’s primary subject was the landscape and nature of Otter Tail County and western Minnesota. Instead of an exact representation, he worked to create an interpretation of his own experiences and vision in an honest, modernist style.

The collection of works in the exhibition was assembled by poet Timothy Murphy. An admirer and friend of Beck, he derived both enjoyment and inspiration from his friend’s artwork. Murphy’s poem “Snowgeese” references and gives direct attribution to Beck’s iconic landscape of the same name.

Several of Murphy’s poems are displayed alongside Beck’s prints in the exhibition. Reproduced images of Beck’s woodcuts are also featured in most of Murphy’s published collections of poetry.

“The collection features a wonderful cross-section of Beck’s work from 1966 to 2000,” says Greg Vettel, Northwest Arts Center director. “While primarily featuring the landscape of rural western Minnesota, the prints depict imagery that we would find familiar and relatable in a beautiful, yet simple style. The exhibition’s theme of the ability of artists to inspire others also resonates powerfully.”

The Timothy Murphy Collection includes 24 Beck woodcuts on semi-permanent loan to The Rourke Art Gallery + Museum.

While at the Northwest Arts Center, the exhibition will be available for viewing Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 1-5 p.m. It is closed holidays. The Walter Piehl Gallery is located on the lower level of the Gordon B. Olson Library at Minot State University, with its own entrance on the south side of the library. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Rourke Art Gallery + Museum and by the North Dakota Art Gallery Association (NDAGA), a statewide service organization for non-profit museums and galleries, and supported by Howard and Ann Dahl Murphy LLLP and in part by a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The attached images of Beck’s woodcut images, along with creation year, are:

01: Snowgeese, 1988

02: Cathedral Forest, 1986

03: Early Snow, 1994

04: Marsh Grass, 1992


Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life. 

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