Lana Beck of Le Sueur organized an art drive in her yard over the weekend for a crucial cause. Beck offered up to 256 of her paintings in exchange for free-will donations to benefit the MS Society for research.

Beck’s reputation as a talented area artist precedes her. When the art drive opened at 3 p.m. Friday, June 19, there was a line of cars down her street just waiting to get first dibs on finding that perfect piece to accent a home or office.

By the time her art walk was over on Saturday, she had raised $1,780 for the MS Society.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disabling condition of the central nervous system. The disease causes communication problems between the brain and the body and can cause deterioration of the nerves or even permanent damage.

Beck’s son was diagnosed with MS a few years ago. She also knows a few people around her who are affected by it; hence, the research towards finding a cure is important to her.

Beck’s art is well-known in the region as she has painted various murals around the state. Some of her popular pieces include the arcade at the state fairgrounds, the car crash scene at Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store in Jordan, the mural in Le Sueur’s Valley Green Square Mall, and the government center's and “Beautiful Prairie” murals in Belle Plaine. She has also done interior art work for Le Sueur-Henderson Public Schools.

Beck has worked at more than 1,800 homes and commercial sites with projects ranging from nursery murals and decorative windows to rec rooms and offices. Her works reach as far south as Florida and up north to Duluth. She also has some works in South Dakota and even in Wisconsin.

During the art drive, Beck presented 256 paintings that were initially tucked away in her house from the past five to six years. While she was working on cleaning her studio in the basement, she came up with the idea for the art drive to find her paintings a new home.

“After seeing all the paintings I had, I knew it was time,” said Beck. “What am I saving these for? It’s my passion! I don’t need money for this.”

Beck doesn’t mind trading her work away for a smile on the faces of her neighbors and the people of her community. She was also enthusiastic to spread awareness about MS and collect funds to contribute to the cause. She knows that her unending creativity will always seek more canvases to work on.

“All my neighbors enjoy the driveway that I painted, so I want to give them more to walk through,” said Beck, who hopes to spread joy during these isolating times.

Most of the paintings were acrylic as Beck appreciates the convenience of using it. While she also presented some oil paintings and watercolors, she admits that oil paintings are not cost-effective and don’t last long, whereas watercolors require much more planning and patience. Many pieces were 8x10” and 11x14” frameable.

Beck’s home is her own studio which has various murals on the walls. She draws her inspiration from daily activities like house chores and her social media feed.

“Something comes out when I am cleaning or moving things,” said Beck, “or even when I look at Facebook posts of someone getting a puppy or someone sending prayers for the other. Inspiration comes from happiness and sorrow.”

However, the artist’s most surprising source of inspiration is the shape of clouds. She can see shapes and scenes that clouds create and bring them alive on her canvas.

Beck usually holds classes in her basement studio; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s on a break. She is preparing the studio by cleaning and disinfecting.

Beck says that she misses having people over but thinks that the sessions will not be efficient while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks. She also wants to be very careful about her son, who might be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 due to MS.

Beck provides some sessions in the parks to the kids, but with reduced capacities and safety measures of social distancing. Beck also instructed the participants at the art drive to maintain a six foot distance and wear a mask.

Through the art drive, Beck hopes to spread awareness of MS among the people of Le Sueur and the surrounding communities. It serves as a reminder to be grateful for one’s health while being mindful of others who may be at a higher risk.

While MS doesn’t itself raise the chances of contracting COVID-19, a few factors may affect a person’s response to the virus, including the type of MS medication, age, and other health conditions.

Beck also wants people to remember the importance of spreading joy and having fun during these trying times.

“The day we stop having fun is a sad day,” said Beck.

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