One of the most recognized artists in Minnesota, Charles Beck continues to be influenced by the landscape of Otter Tail County. He was born in 1923 in Fergus Falls where he lives today, and he began drawing in grade school where he would trade his works for candy and marbles. Beck attended Concordia College in Moorhead in the 1940's where he studied art under Cyrus Running. Sports Director Jake Christiansen convinced him to play football (another important aspect of his college career). Beck credits Running and the Christiansen brothers (Jake and Paul) at Concordia as being great influences in his life. Beck graduated from Concordia in 1948 after taking time off to serve as a pilot in the Naval Air Force. He continued his education at the University of Iowa where he received his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1950, and then returned to Fergus Falls where he worked as a sign painter.
In 1953 Beck enrolled at the University of Minnesota where he studied under Cameron Booth, Walter Quirt, and Malcolm Myers. It was at the U where Beck was first introduced to woodblock prints, and he completed his first print The Holy Family. Beck joined the faculty at Fergus Falls Community College (now Minnesota State Community and Technical College or M State) in 1960 where he taught for 27 years. Concordia granted Beck an Honorary Doctorate in 1980, and in 2006 M State honored Beck by naming the new gallery after him. Beck's subject matter is the landscape and nature of Otter Tail County. Instead of an exact representation, Beck attempts to create an interpretation of his own experiences and vision.