Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ken Beck, Artist

My classmate Ken Beck sent me this image of a self-portrait he painted a few years ago. He tells me it was based on a photograph taken in 1956, when he was 12 years old.  His happy memories of growing up as an artist in Danvers are shared in this month's column, published Thursday June 6 in the Danvers Herald.  He described the teachers who influenced him, especially Frances Matsubara.

"Self-Portrait as a Young Artist"
Oil on Panel. 12x9" c. 1959
Ken thanks me for encouraging him to write down his memories. Conversations we had at Holten High Reunion last July (our first meeting since 1959!) led to the autobiographical writing he has produced this year. In February he gave a Gallery Talk about his life and art at the Gallery NAGA in Boston. When he sent me the text of that talk, we discussed ways to include his stories in my columns. I wanted Danvers readers to hear his descriptions of Danversport (see entry below) and his praise of Danvers teachers. Ken wrote additional details of his Danvers experiences and began sending me images to accompany the stories.  I have enjoyed this collaboration.

At the reunion Ken was one of the first classmates I recognized.  And I do recognize him clearly in this young self-portrait. It has been fun to get to know him better and to learn what he has been doing in the intervening 50+ years.  Back in the 1950's I knew very little of the artistic side of Ken Beck.  Now I look forward to visiting his studio and seeing his artwork, especially the series of 10 paintings he did based on family photos from Cheever Street. "All together, they constitute a kind of painted visual autobiography," he says.

See the June column The Education of a young artist, which was published in the paper June 7 and posted online June 9.

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