Jul 4, 2013 1:39 PM by Dan Shadwell

Mark Beck's haunting images take refuge at SLOMA

The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art has just opened a new exhibit entitled... "Tyranny of Beauty," with works by Mark Beck, a man who spent 20 years on the Central Coast, including a stint teaching art at the california men's colony...
At first glance, his works look almost like classic landscapes and portraits. But the more time you spend with them, the more his mood begins to wash over you.
"...something ominous to the picture," says Ruta Saliklis, Exhibit Director at SLOMA. "So you look at it and you stare at it for a long time and you realize that there is something not exactly right with this picture. Something is happening."
The canvasses include spectacular view of the cliffs of dover from behind a broken-armed alabaster memorial perched on a cemetery cliff; a rich pasture under a gorgeous, roiling summer sky... but in the foreground, a simple one story home, with half torn away... a physically broken home; a merry-go-round occupied by crows in a forest of dead trees, and an erie light, completely devoid of children; and a blonde girl gazing at a glowing, swelling sea, that looks ready to sweep her away.
"What is he trying to say to the viewer?" I asked Saliklis.
"I think he's trying to be provocative," she says, pointing to a work entitled "Executive Decision." It depicts a grand house on the shore. But look closer and you'll see a policeman on the front porch, gun drawn, poised to enter the home through the front door, as the "executive" escapes from the rear of the home.
"He really doesn't want to explain any of the pictures," says Saliklis. "He thinks that... he's happy that somebody looks at it and comes up with any sort of an interesting interpretation."
Those contradictions--beautiful scenery juxtaposed with disturbing imagery.. how you interpret them... and why... are some of the reasons museum patrons have looked for Mark Beck's return, she explains.
"Tyranny of Beauty" runs through August 18th at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art at 1010 Broad Street in downtown San Luis Obispo. Admission is free... and you can meet the artist Friday evening during "Art After Dark."
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