Kaddatz Galleries and Charles Beck

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A cat in an artist loft window peers down at the visitors to Kaddatz Galleries below

Walking down Lincoln Avenue in Fergus Falls, it’s hard to miss Kaddatz Galleries, located just across the street from the Fergus Theater, in the old Kaddatz Hotel. The galleries may have only been open for a year and a half, but they have already become a home for regional artists looking to show their work.

Front and center in the showroom is the work of Fergus Falls native, Charles Beck. Beck, now in his 80s, helped found the Fergus Falls arts scene, and inspired future generations of artists while teaching at M State’s Fergus Falls campus.

Beck’s wood block prints depict Minnesota landscapes and wildlife in all seasons, using patterns that are often as geometric as they are natural. He’s shown his work at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the Walker Art Center.

While Charles Beck may be the best known artist based in Fergus Falls, other talent abounds. The Kaddatz Galleries currently have three exhibits up, including a show of assemblage pieces and pastel drawings by Kirk Williams. Then there’s a group show of artwork all made from the same recyclable paper bag. Hanging on display are the costumes for Universit of Minnesota, Morris’ recent production of “As you like it,” which, in addition to being beautiful and period appropriate, are made entirely from re-used objects like pop bottle tops and tea bags.

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Early Snow, Charles Beck

Created by A Center for the Arts, the Kaddatz Galleries have since spun off into their own non-profit. Gallery manager Gretchen Boyum says its mission is to foster arts education and appreciation, and to maintain a gallery space where the works of Charles Beck and other artists in the region are accessible to the local public:

Our main goal is to really give the audience a better understanding of the many artists that work in the area, the various mediums that they work in, and how art relates to their lives. With each new exhibition we try to give people some insight by including some interpretive text that talks about the artist, the medium, or the theme of the exhibition. We also host the Artist’s Lecture Series where exhibiting artists come in to talk about their work.

With the help of ArtSpace Above the galleries, the upper floors of the old hotel have been converted into artist lofts that currently house two photographers, four painters, and two musicians.

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Assemblages by Kirk Williams

In addition, Boyum has been taking the art out into the community, leading printmaking workshops for school children, and hosting “artful afternoons” at local senior care facilities.

We recently held a pottery workshop at a care facility for people with memory problems, and the staff was amazed at how the residents really were able to focus on the artist, and they each painted their own hand-thrown plate. I received an email from the staff that said the residents were still talking about it the next day.

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One of the costumes for the production of “As You Like It” at the University of Minnesota, Morris

Boyum says the community response to the galleries has been great, with more than 100 people attended the most recent opening.

People are impressed with the quality of the exhibits and the art work, and sometimes they are even more impressed when they find out the artists live in Fergus Falls! It’s nice to be an advocate for rural arts, and to let people know that we are not void of culture in small towns. I think we have become a source of community pride. Many of the artists I work with comment on how the idea of having a gallery here inspires them to work harder, and hopefully it will help keep the visual arts vital in our area by attracting and retaining other talented artists as well.

Kaddatz Galleries is located at 111 W Lincoln Avenue in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

  • http://www.fergusarts.org Rebecca Petersen

    Awesome Article, Awesome Gallery. WOrth the drive!

  • Rud Wasson

    The gallery is truely a gem on the prairie. The art and it’s impact on the community are phenominal. Thanks for the great article.