Hank and Mary Beckman
What kind of artwork do you collect? We collect a variety of work: traditional western, Russian Impressionist, contemporary western, and some of the old illustrators. We’ve collected 27 different artists, and every piece is special to us and our family. Often these pieces hold a great story as to where or how or when we made the purchase. For example, when I saw Xiang Zhang’s paintings, I knew that he knew how to put horses in the proper lead, and that really impressed me. Plus I like his brush strokes, and there is a lot of action in his paintings.
How would you describe your approach to collecting? Most important of all, we buy a piece we like. We visit two galleries in particular. I like to pick the brains of the staff at Southwest Gallery in Dallas and at McLarry Fine Art in Santa Fe. We also enjoy the art shows, particularly the Prix de West, where there is such an assembly of talent in one place. It is a real kick to visit with the artists whose work we are buying.
How many pieces have you acquired over the years? We have 57 paintings and 17 sculptures. Some have now been dispersed among our four children and eight grandchildren. We usually give a piece to each new baby in the family.
How long have you been collecting? 25 years.
How did you get started? We’ve always loved art. Both of us grew up in New York City, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art was our neighbor. As a third grader, I played hooky from school to hang out at the museum. For 30 days I did this. My mother punished me, as well as the nuns, but it never deterred my love of art.
What was the first piece you purchased? The first major purchase was a piece by Xiang Zhang. Presently we own 15 of his pieces, from ballerinas to cowboys.
What’s your most recent acquisition? Actually the last two purchases have been Poteet Victory. At first his work appears modern, but to us it also has a western and spiritual feel. We’ve met Poteet, and he is not only a great artist but a great horseman as well.
What’s on your wish list for the future? A work by Kyle Polzin and probably another Poteet Victory. We really like the Polzin westerns.
What piece do visitors comment on the most? Xiang Zhang’s work definitely has the wow factor. His LAND RUSH encompasses so much history that everyone comments on it. Also the works by Poteet. So many people say, “I never liked modern, but this is fabulous.”
Is there a piece that got away? No. There have been some pieces that didn’t fit our budget at the time, but both galleries that we deal with have been flexible and accommodating for us.