Artist Marian Beck Explores History, Culture of Kachemak Bay

Marcia Lynn


     This summer, visitors to the Pratt Museum were exposed to the history and lifestyle of Kachemak Bay area residents through an exhibit consisting of 17 paintings by Halibut Cove artist Marian Beck.  At a closing reception for the exhibit, Beck talked about how it was created.  She said the exhibit was commissioned by the Pratt whose staff came up with the title, "Merged Lifestyles of Kachemak Bay."  Each piece is accompanied by a written narrative.

     "I wanted to start the narrative in 1953 when the road came to Homer," said Beck. "So this is just a story of weather and our landscape ... the narratives are about the people who settled here and how their lifestyles molded the development of Kachemak Bay."    

     Beck spent two and a half months doing sketches in the field and then used them in her studio across the Bay—which she represented at the exhibit by an art installation.  The brightly colored paintings are hung all on one level in a circular pattern around the gallery walls.  

     The exhibit starts with a photo of Marian and her husband Dave Beck beside one of their early boats on the Kasilof River, where she says they often fished.  She points out one painting that shows the forces of nature.  It’s a scene where Beck is rowing through a squall on Kachemak Bay.

She painted from mid-February to early May to prepare for the June opening.  Beck, who is the daughter of Halibut Cove artist Diana Tillion and Alaska statesman Clem Tillion, says the fish camp lifestyle and a chunk of history are represented in another painting. 

     "My mom was a pastry cook at Snug Harbor when she was 16 ... and my dad a had a bunch of campaign posters there," she said. "So it's about how early on ... this whole area was really important."

The exhibit, "Merged Lifestyles of Kachemak Bay" closed on September 30th but Beck says she gained some notoriety from its summer run.  She owns and operates the Saltry Restaurant in Halibut Cove and says one of the Saltry’s customers asked Beck to autograph her meal ticket.