Paintings by Arthello Beck depict black life in Dallas, on display at the African American Museum

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“Scooter”, by Arthello Beck Jr., 1979

An exhibit at the African American Museum Dallas highlights Arthello Beck Jr., the Oak Cliff artist who died in 2004.

Photo of Arthello Beck Jr. by Carl Sidle

Humanization: the artistic eye of Arthello Beck Jr. has 35 paintings and runs from March 22 to April 15; the show is free.

The City of Dallas plans to erect a sculpture in Beck’s honor at Twin Falls Park this year.

The exhibit was curated by Jennifer Monet Cowley, who also designed the sculpture. An artists’ discussion is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 26 at the museum. Beck’s wife, Mae Beck, and his best friend, Carl Sidle, will be in attendance.

Beck took art classes at Lincoln High School, but was otherwise self-taught, according to the Handbook of Texas. His studio on South Beckley was the first black-owned gallery in Dallas.

Considered by many to be one of the leading artists of the South West, Beck has traveled to Central America, South America, West Africa, England, China, Egypt, Turkey and the Caribbean. In 1985, Texas Governor Mark White named Beck Goodwill Ambassador for the State of Texas. In the summer of 1993, Arthello and his wife, along with about eighteen other Texans, took part in a cultural and trade mission to Ghana. Beck once told a journalist, “I believe an artist has to see things. An artist must travel.

Beck’s work “not only captured the daily lives of African Americans in Dallas, but also addressed social, political, and religious topics in a variety of mediums,” a museum press release reads.

In 1970, at age 29, Beck said, “I’m alive and I’m black!” Therefore, I am motivated to paint the human elements and conditions that affect humanity. The truth motivated me to paint with the desire to express myself. Because I am life, I have to paint the realities of life. Therefore, I have a strong desire to communicate with black people through my paintings, so that they don’t isolate themselves from each other.

“We have played too proudly”, by Arthello Beck, 1995

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