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The deep lines and the distinctive forms of a Victor Beck silver bolo or belt buckle are reminiscent of the architectural structures he admired. Beck carefully selected turquoise stones and coral to use in these jewelry forms as well as in the necklaces, bracelets, and rings he creates. Beck’s appreciation for jewelry developed from his experiences as a child living in a household where the aesthetics of well-executed silver jewelry and the beauty of turquoise were appreciated. Beck said, “When growing up, my father and mother collected the finest pieces of jewelry. My father had a unique feeling for turquoise. All is now distributed among seven children.”
While a student in the ceramic program at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Beck’s class curriculum dictated nine hours of jewelry making to complete his bachelor in arts. Beck felt so comfortable with the jewelry classes that he switched his degree from ceramics to jewelry. He said of his experience, “When I got into jewelry, I knew that was where I belonged.” In 1973, Beck received a scholarship at State University of New York in New Paltz. Beck attributed the simple, clean lines of his work to his experience at New Paltz.
Beck also credited Charles Loloma’s creative use of inlay and selection of materials such as ironwood and lapis lazuli as influencing his jewelry and laying the groundwork for many jewelers working today. Inspired by Loloma’s use of inlay, Beck’s addition of inlay to the sides of rings became a hallmark for the jewelry.
In the spring of 1978, Beck was awarded a commission to design and execute a rosary for Pope Paul VI. Beck was at a high point of his career at this time, when he was asked by the community of Pinon to serve a four-year term a Navajo Tribal Council Delegate. Beck’s attention was diverted from jewelry making as he worked with other community members to develop a master plan for Pinon.
Beck received numerous jewelry awards at various competitions including those held at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, the Heard Museum, and the Navajo Tribal Fair. He received first place awards in 1995 at the Santa Fe Indian Market and in 1996 at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair. He became an Arizona Living Treasure.
Victor Beck passed away on February 18, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona at 80 years old. He deeply impacted the Native American art community during the course of his life. He will be missed, but his work will live on as a testament to his unique vision and talent.