Art Treatise: Light Beckons

BY Meghan Barnes

The first time Dan Beck crossed the bridge into Wilmington in 2009 he knew he would make the city his home. “Ijust remember thinking this was the place I had been looking for my entire life ” Beck says. From the bridge Beck saw the history of Wilmington mixed with the art and the culture of the region create something he had never seen before. As he got closer and was able to appreciate the architecture of the newer homes standing boldly and unapologetically next to those that have stood since the Civil War days he became inspired. Although he had lived in the South as a child and called Colorado home as an adult Beck had never experienced a city that had so much history so intertwined with local artists and art genres.

“I found Wilmington by mistake ” Beck says. An uncle who lives in Southport introduced him to the Port City. Walking along the Riverwalk with his family Beck began to see things in a different way. He started seeing new bodegas and art galleries housed in historic buildings.

“It was almost as if you could see the history reflecting on the river ” he explains. “The mixture of old and new seemed poetic to me.”

Beck saw colors cast on faces of people and the facades of buildings he walked past. He grew excited and restless to paint?

“There is more richness in the gray tones when you have this type of atmosphere. When you are in the West everything is clearly defined. The atmosphere here blends everything together — it gives beauty to the greatness ” he says.

With roots in the style of Impressionism Beck was intrigued by the way the humidity mixed with the air and caused colors to run together as the temperatures soared and dropped throughout the day. He began to remember the reason he was originally attracted to the palette of color from which he paints. Colors do not simply sit by themselves he says. They marry those around them. They create new designs and colors from their mixtures and they come and go as quickly as the wind changes which is why Beck says it was so important to him to move here and capture the light and color of this area.?

“When I came here I found that things moved easier. I am able to go outdoors and paint and I love watching the way the colors shift as the day goes on but it isn’t just that. There is a good artistic energy in Wilmington. Not just for painters — for any type of artists. You can go to the coffee shop here and there is the owner who is a working musician and a writer working on a novel ” he says.

Beck secured a judge’s spot at the Wilmington Art Association’s 33rd Annual Juried Spring Art Show and Sale part of the 2015 NC Azalea Festival. He says he will look for key elements across artistic genres: line shape value color texture and edge to judge the different mediums. But the most important thing Beck looks for when judging a particular piece is the emotional response that it beckons from him.

“You can have work that is lacking in some of the technical issues but has the emotional content strong. There are things you can specifically put your finger on and things you can’t. There’s an immediate reaction it grabs you the way music you hear on the radio grabs you ” he says.