ILLUMINATED GLASS jjjjj
Don Beck has been creating illuminated art, signage and architectural lighting for over 35 years, with studios in Chicago, Las Vegas and Dallas/Ft.Worth. Currently artist-in-residence and visiting professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. Co-Founder SiNaCa Studios School of Glass, Ft.Worth Texas.
custom neon signs, neon art in Arlington, Don Beck Neon
Curriculum Vitae/ Biography
University of Texas at Arlington - BFA magna cum laude - Glass
University of Texas at Arlington - MS in Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on sustainable design (School of Urban and Public Affairs)
Studied with Wes Hunting (Kent State) - Off-hand glass blowing
Bill Gudenrath (Corning Museum Glass Studio) - Venetian style glass
Harald Eberhart (University of Michigan) - Illuminated borosilicate glass
During time spent working as a broker at the Chicago Board of Trade in the mid 70's, I began seeking information concerning neon art on a novice level. I was fascinated by the use of neon in everything from Art-Deco and abstract forms to architectural lighting. Working out of my home studio and in collaboration with several small sign and glass shops in the Chicago area, I left the world of commodities futures and began accepting commissions in the late 70’s.
Opening my studio in 1980, we supplied a number of Chicago production companies with neon for movie and television props as well as stage lighting. Work has been shown in 8 feature films and over 75 TV commercials. Explored architectural lighting and neon murals, also studied with Wes Hunting from Kent State in off-hand glass blowing techniques and incorporated the use of various glass forms in my illuminated pieces.
Moving and expanding the studio to Dallas in 1985, work immediately began on a number of large-scale projects. Major projects included consulting Bramalea Texas to redesign Interfirst Bank’s 72 story, green “Argon Tower” and a number of pieces for West End Marketplace, including the “rainbow rings” around its water towers and an 8 foot neon and stainless steel chandelier for the main entry. We sponsored at least two glass art shows per year in our Glaswerk Gallery in Dallas’s Deep Ellum district.
In 1988, I was lured to the Mecca of neon, Las Vegas. Production was completed on a variety of commercial projects including the remodeling of the original Caesar’s Palace (one of the world’s largest neon displays at the time; approx. 29,000 feet of turquoise tubing), the Flamingo Hotel in Laughlin, Nevada and animated neon carousel displays for the Tropicana in New Jersey. Working with the Las Vegas Allied Arts Council, I was in charge of acquisitions and restorations for the original Las Vegas Neon Sign Museum. Commissioned to design and produce the artwork for Governor Bob Miller’s Inaugural Ball in 1991, those pieces are part of the collection of the Nevada State Museum.
I sold the commercial neon plant and studios in Las Vegas in 1992 and returned to the Dallas/Ft.Worth area to pursue a less commercial direction in my work. Teaching was always a high priority and I continued to offer illuminated glass design and glass bending classes out of my own studio until returning to the University of Texas at Arlington in 2001.
In 2003 and 2004 I served as the Art Department's liaison to the architects, builders and university in the construction of the UTA Studio Arts Center. The SAC is a 40,000 sq ft space housing the Glass, Ceramics, Printmaking, Painting, Sculpture and Metals (the "dirty" arts). My team also constructed almost all of the equipment, tables, storage racks, marvers, benches and furnaces after the building was turned over to us.
In 2004 the Art Dept. began offering classes in Beginning and Advanced Illuminated Glass. I also taught Fundamentals of 3D Design and BA Professional Practices and Portfolio Presentation. I served for much of my time at the University as the art department head technician as well the environmental, health and safety officer.
In 2007, four other glass artists and I co-found SiNaCa Studios School of Glass in Fort Worth, Texas. SiNaCa Studios is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation offering classes in a variety of hot glass art disciplines and programs focusing on community, education and art.
I retired from the University in June of 2013, to spend more time with my own work and continue my explorations of plasma vessel technology. I sustain my desire to share and teach by offering visiting artist classes to glass schools and other university glass programs, and by working in a private status with aspiring glass artists.
Note: I apologize for the poor quality of many of the pics on this site, for which my only excuse is that I'm a rather inept photographer and many of the shots were on slides, not in the best condition.
1968-75 Beck Racing – Ft. Worth, TX – Build and campaign Sports and Formula racing cars.
1975-80 Rosenthal & Co. – Chicago, IL – Chicago Board of Trade
Commodities broker, national operations manager 1977.
Managed several ancillary businesses including Dowdex Gold Options.
1979-80 Began taking commissions for neon and glass/metal artwork
1980-82 Lightwriters Neon – Winnetka, IL – Began teaching classes in glass tube-bending and design. Work shown throughout Chicago area.
1982-85 Beck Productions – Deerfield, IL – Consultant, large-scale projects,
architectural lighting, movie props.
1985-88 Neon Nebula, Inc. – Dallas, TX – Deep Ellum studio and art glass
gallery. Classes conducted in neon design and fabrication.
Member – Dallas Glass Arts Society
1988-92 Beck Neon – Las Vegas, NV – Studio, gallery and school. Consultant
for a number of large projects for the casino industry.
Board member – Allied Arts Council of Las Vegas
1992-01 Works in Glass and Light – Ft. Worth, TX – Consultant and designer,
architectural lighting, signage displays, public art venues.
Board member (Chair) – Panther City Arts Project 1994-95
Board member (Co-chair) – ArtSpace Texas 1995-96
Board member (Sec) – Historic Landmarks, Inc. 1996-2005
2001-04 University of Texas at Arlington – Arlington, TX – Art Department
studio technician and adjunct assistant professor.
Member – Glass Arts Society 2000-present
Selection committee – Ft. Worth Public Arts Council 2004
2005-08 University of Texas at Arlington – Arlington, TX – Art Department
Senior Lecturer – Illuminated Glass Program, 3D Design
2007-09 SiNaCa School of Glass-Fort Worth, TX Founding artist/President
2008-13 University of Texas at Arlington – Arlington, TX – Art Department
Research and EH&S officer, adjunct professor
2013- University of Texas at Arlington – Artist in residence, visiting professor
1981-01 Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas. In-studio classes in neon art and tube- bending, architectural lighting displays and commercial neon signage.
2004-08 University of Texas at Arlington. Illuminated Glass (Novice and
2004-09 University of Texas at Arlington. Fundamentals in 3D Design
2010-13 University of Texas at Arlington. BA Professional Practices and
Graduate Portfolio Presentation. Also worked with several graduate
and upper level glass majors on projects using illuminated glass and
2013- Working with advanced and graduate glass students, independent study
Glass: off-hand blowing, tube-bending, lamp work, fusing and casting
Plasma vessel construction, gas discharge illumination
Large illuminated displays, design and construction
Woodworking including lathe and machine work
Metals: casting, forming and machining
Electrical systems, controls
Studio set-up and operations, equipment construction
Sustainable studio design and engineering