Later this year, the City of Dallas will erect a statue in honor of artist Arthello Beck Jr. (1941-2004) – the first African American to open a gallery in Dallas – in Twins Falls Park in South Oak Cliff. As a tribute, the African American Museum will exhibit 35 of Beck’s vividly colored paintings to show the diversity of his artwork and how it not only captured the daily lives of African Americans in Dallas but also addressed social, political and religious subjects in a variety of mediums. The exhibit – “Humanization: The Artistic Eye of Arthello Beck, Jr.” – will remind those familiar with his artwork of the breadth and depth of his artistic vision and introduce it to a new audience.
In 1970 at age 29, Beck said: “I am alive, and I am Black! Therefore, I am motivated to paint the human elements and conditions that affect humanity. Truth has motivated me to paint along with a desire to express myself. Because I am life, I am compelled to paint the realities of life. Therefore, I have a strong desire to communicate with Black people through my paintings, so they won’t become isolated from one another.”
Jennifer Monet Cowley, the exhibition curator and designer of the City’s public art sculpture, describes her inspiration. “In this exhibition, Humanization, I selected works of art that inspired the public art sculpture that I have designed along with other works of art that depict realistic scenes of Black family life. Arthello’s quote describes his desire for decency and respect to be restored to all Black people. This statement still rings true in 2022, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement growing in significance and impact since the brutal murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hand of police in 2020.”
Also, an Artist Talk will be held Saturday, March 26, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Museum, featuring Cowley along with special guests Mae Beck, the wife of the late Arthello Beck Jr., and his best friend, Carl Sidle