top of page

Feeling Art: The Work of Dan Beck at Beck Fine Art Gallery in Leland

By Jan Morgan-Swegle, Photos By Tony Swegle

Leland is the fastest growing towns in Brunswick County and we are about to add to our eclectic landscape. But, don’t look for a new apartment complex or housing development — look instead for a new Art Gallery. Beck’s Art Gallery, formerly located at 545 Castle St. in Wilmington, has moved to 857 Village Road in Leland with hopes to open this summer.

Dan Beck is a Contemporary Impressionist, but he is more than an artist. What he creates makes him a teacher, a poet and a story-teller. Dan pulls his inspirations from the sounds of the wild mix of blues and rock music from Jimi Hendrix in his early career, or from a thunderstorm and even the delicate but strong outline of the female form. He works primarily in oil and does everything from abstract to contemporary pieces.

Dan’s impressive portfolio and awards could make him successful in any part of the world, but he chose Leland to call home. “I’m a country boy at heart,” he said. “I enjoy the sounds and colors of the country. The Brunswick River is just five minutes from here and I go there as often as I can to enjoy the peace and solitude that it offers. The Gallery sits on several acres of land with trees and shrubbery all around me. I feel connected to the neighborhood, but I am surrounded by the beauty of what I see. I have no other interests or hobbies than painting and art. I’m happy here doing what I’m doing.”

As soon as Dan and his wife and two daughters can get the gallery organized and open, he hopes to offer workshops to young artists. He currently teaches in Clayton and does workshops in Morehead City. “I want your readers to know that we are here in Leland. I want to teach and entertain them by showing them my somewhat unusual methods of inspiration. I want young artists to enjoy what they are doing. If you are an artist and you are trying to please everyone with what you create, you are doing something wrong. Create what you see, create what you feel. Create using what inspires you, not others. If that means your studio space is filled with loud music and a million choices of color all open at the same time, so what? As long as you are happy with your work, you will be a successful artist.”

Art as An Experience

Walking around the studio was like stepping on a rainbow. Abstract paintings leaned against paintings of traditional beautiful women wearing flowing robes in graduated hues of color. A contemporary painting of a lady with blue hair stared confidently at an old, grizzled religious looking man with a long, dark beard done in charcoal. When you look at his abstract landscapes, you may see clouds, you may see the light blue and green shades of the sea, you may see a structure in the distance, but you also see a concert of color, texture, mood and reflections as if you are viewing the piece through gently moving water.

Dan not only wants you to look at his paintings, but to “feel” them as well. When you view his work, he wants you to feel the wind blowing invisibly through trees in a field. He wants you to experience nature in his work. Movement and connection in his work are important. While one person might seek a “place for the eyes to rest” in a painting — or moving away from crowded content, Dan uses contrast in his work to achieve this concept. You will see “flatter” areas in his pieces, or “areas of calmness,” as he puts it. The shape of an object in one of his pieces might fade lightly into the distance, while being bold in the foreground. There might be heavy texturing in a corner of his work that draws your eyes to a second subject matter that would have been missed without the texture.

Dan’s work tells a story. I was particularly moved by one of his pieces featuring a woman in a yellow kimono. She is seated on the floor with her long, slender arms raised and bent as if she is taking off a flowered headpiece that hides her hair. She is looking down, possibly at the pink and red flowers that rest near her on the floor in a bunch with long, green stems. She looks sad and tired. She looks as if she presented herself to the outside world in the manner expected of her and now, it is her time to remove the costume of the person she is supposed to be for the real woman that she is. Her ethnicity is not easily identified. She could be any woman. She could be Every Woman. Her arched brows and the red color of her lips stand out as the only identifying features of her delicate face. I know this woman is in her bedroom. To the right, I see a table and a clock. Behind her, sits a large, blue vase of some sort and like her, it is sitting on a brown, wooden planked floor. I feel her fatigue. I envy her beauty. I want her to rest, but I know, like she does, that tomorrow is another day and she will have to perform in her costume all over again.

Early Influences

Dan talked about his early life and finding an avenue for his creative side. Originally from Florida, Dan grew up in a military family which meant that they moved frequently. He spent his teen aged years in the South, living in Georgia, Louisiana and Alabama. The beauty of the southern landscape and the fury of the ocean were among the first influences that are so prevalent in his work. He said he always carried a sketch book when he was growing up. He liked to capture what he saw and make it his own interpretation.

It wasn’t until Dan left the military that he realized that he could study and ultimately, make a living doing what he loved — painting and creating art.

Dan learned and fine-tuned his craft at the Rocky Mountain School of Art and Design in Denver, Colorado. Dan studied under Ramon Kelley, at the Art Students League in Denver and also at his studio. Kelley, an American postwar Contemporary artist, was heavily influenced by the art of the European masters of the Renaissance, French Impressionism and Russian works from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Nicolai Fechin, a Russian artist who painted strong, figural pieces was also an influencer of Kelley and whose style is evident in many of Dan Beck’s paintings of women. Dan said, “Women aren’t weak. They may appear to be delicate, but they are strong in their movement and attitudes.”

Art Philosophy

While Dan is well schooled in artistic techniques, he firmly believes that too often artists get stopped by what they consider to be the “rules” of painting. He wrote, “Having established my need to stay open to possibilities as an artist and the freedom that comes with it, the next thing I need are tools that allow me to express my intent. In today’s art world there are so many schools of thought and rules to ‘picture making’ that it can get confusing. I feel that I only have to learn what I need to learn in order to paint the paintings I am trying to paint. I think as artists we have to trust ourselves to know what is important to our pursuit and what is not.”

His philosophy has brought him much success and recognition. Dan is a master signature member of the American Impressionist Society and the Gold Medal winner of the 2017 Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition, as well as the Gold Medal winner of the 2011 Oil Painters of America National Exhibition.

Wilmington has the Cameron Art Museum, Southport has the Franklin Square Gallery and now Leland has an art gallery of its own. It’s small today. You could even call it humble or personal, but the possibilities for growth are endless. The Beck Art Fine Gallery will not only provide an amazing artistic experience for its visitors, it will showcase Leland as an up-and-coming place for serious artists to exhibit their work. Thank you, Dan, for selecting Leland as your artistic home base.

If you want to “feel” art, go to, and be the first one in line when the gallery officially opens or call 910-299-8288 to get more information on the opening. Looking at this work is an experience you won’t forget.


The Latest Issue
July2023Leland Cover Website.jpg
Follow us on Facebook
  • Facebook Basic Black
bottom of page