By Raven Jordan
After more than three years in the works, a public art sculpture honoring the late artist Arthello Beck Jr. will be officially unveiled at Twin Falls Park.
Beck was best known for his paintings depicting Black life and humanizing Black people during a time when inequality was high in the South. His work was previously on display at the African American Museum in the spring.
The installation features nods to a family— Beck’s family— and nods to some of the symbols in his art; including a cypress tree, a beach ball and a mother braiding her daughter’s hair.
Jennifer Monet Crowley has been the sole artist on the project since last year, but she started out with a team of several. She shared the challenges of completing the project and ensuring she did justice to Beck’s memory.
“I wanted to make sure that we were humanized just the way Arthello humanized African-Americans in his artwork, and I wanted the family that is depicted in the artwork to just be regular everyday people.”
Crowley, who is traditionally a painter, faced an additional challenge when having to redesign once she became the only artist on the project. So, she ventured outside the box into the realms of sculpture to create her first solo-public art installation with durable materials.
She says she used a fabricator from California since there’s no sort of service in Dallas.
“I went with the fabricator because it’s the technique that was used as a porcelain enamel, and I use photography. I submitted the photograph to the company in California and they inlaid it in glass, applied to steel, so it’s extremely durable. It has a 20-year-plus life expectancy.”
Originally, she was approached by Frank Frazier, a prominent Dallas artist to work on a project with several other artists in 2017 and was shortlisted. Frazier appointed her as the lead artist, but the team didn’t make the cut.
Two years later, Crowley gave the project another shot and was chosen to work with a team on the Arthello Beck Jr. sculpture. However, the team dwindled down over time and the piece required several restarts.
“I was contacted by the City of Dallas back in 2019 asking if I was interested in being shortlisted for the project, and I said yes,” she says. “And I invited another female artist to be on the project with me, so we designed a maquette of the sculpture. And we ended up getting it in December of 2019.”
So, what can people expect from the dedication ceremony? Crowley says it’s a bit of a surprise, even to herself.
“Goodness, I don’t know what to expect. I think there will be a lot of people there. First off, it’s one of those things that’s been a long time coming, something that should have happened years ago. Arthello should have got the recognition that he so deserved while he was living.”
The dedication ceremony for the sculpture happens at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at Twin Falls Park in Oak Cliff.