Artist Statement

My paintings are based on incomplete or altered memories. I take decades of remembered images from my life, the natural world, artworks, and fantastical versions of both actual and imaginary experiences and use them to build my paintings. I like to paint in many different styles.

Since my late teens, I have been employed primarily as a concert cellist and am still active as a performer and teacher. Many of my paintings have musical topics. Sometimes they depict instruments and people playing them, and sometimes they are flights of fancy that are somehow inspired by or based on musical practice, history, or just ideas and emotions generated by music. Of course, I also make many paintings that don’t have anything to do with music.

Visual art has always been central to my outlook. There have been artists in my life since I was a child, and I always appreciated and admired their work. I grew up in New Mexico, where the line between fine art and folk art is blurred, and as a consequence, there is art everywhere. I have collected art of different kinds since well before I was able to comfortably afford it, and I have often traveled to visit museums and collections. I think it was inevitable that I would eventually focus on making art in an effort to more fully experience it. I have worked in photography and ceramics, and am now primarily engaged in painting.

I am self-trained as a painter. Exploring how to depict things and ideas using paint is a thrilling process that becomes part of what I make.

Artist Biography

Joel Becktell was raised in New Mexico. His parents appreciated art, and his father was temperamentally and aspirationaly an artist who became an engineer. Many of Joel’s earliest memories involve artworks.

At age 17, Joel moved to Ohio to attend the Cleveland Institute of Music. He earned Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Cello Performance with distinction. While a student he also worked as a photographer. On graduating, he entered the music profession full time.

While making a living performing and teaching internationally, Joel always maintained a deep interest in a variety of art forms, including photography, ceramics, textiles, painting, and all kinds of printing. Over the years, he acquired an eclectic collection of artworks of many eras and genres, from folk and aboriginal art to fine modern and vintage art. Despite occasionally undertaking art projects of his own, he didn’t develop a regular artistic practice for some time. Now, concurrent with his musical activities, Joel paints in several distinct styles, and has works in numerous private collections.