SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 21, 2014

James W. Falck, 84


Beverly, MA — Jim Falck was surrounded by his family when he died at his home in Beverly, Mass., on October, 5, 2013, after a brief illness. Jim, 84, was a lifelong artist, architect, landscape architect, and friend to many. Jim was born on December 24, 1928, in Edgeley, N.D. and was the middle son of Thomas B. and Anne (Heffron) Falck. While Jim was young, the family moved back to the family farm near Buchanan, N.D., where Jim attended school. Jim attended Jamestown College for one year, then went on to North Dakota Agricultural College (now NDSU) in Fargo, where he was active in the Sigma Chi Fraternity, Blue Key Honor Society and Bison Brevities. He graduated in 1953 with a degree in architecture. After a tour of duty in the U.S. Air Force as a commissioned officer, Jim moved to Denver, Colo., to begin a career in architecture, which moved him to Houston, Flagstaff and Phoenix, before his return to Denver to work for Victor Hornbein, the most significant architect of the region.

In 1966, Jim relocated to Boston, where he worked in the Gropius lead office, the Architects Collaborative, in Cambridge, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. In 1971, he began his 17-year career as the chief landscape architect for the Metropolitan Park System (MDC) in Boston. During that time, he was responsible for park and reservation design, parkway tree planting and design review, including the Esplanade, the Fenway and Mystic Parks. He retired in 1988, to his home in Beverly, Mass., where he was able to devote the rest of his life to art. He enrolled at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, graduating in 1991 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in visual art. Painting brought Jim his greatest joy – enabling him to explore creativity in all forms. Jim was energized by students and by the beauty he discovered in his travels – exploring art, gardens, food, and always the people he encountered.

Jim also did studio work at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston, under Tim Nichols. He was selected as the first artist-in-residence at the Fundacao da Casa de Mateus in Portugal in 1998. He was the only American and artist in a program bringing together European musicians, writers and poets to work in the manor of Count Fernando Albuquerque and his wife, Maria Amelia. He was later invited to Gallifa, Spain, where the Artigas Foundation offered him studio space. At this location, Miro and Llorens Artigas designed ceramic walls for the UNESCO building in Paris and the Barcelona Airport, as well as Harvard’s cafeteria. He also spent seven years in the Boston Visual Arts/Montserrat College “Summer in Italy Program” in Viterbro, Italy. Jim traveled several times to the Instituto San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he was inspired by the people and beauty of the region. He established “Wild Side of the Brain,” a two-day course for Montserrat’s Continuing Education Department, where participants were invited to release barriers and ignite their creativity. Jim exhibited in Bismarck, Fargo, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Santa Fe, Boston, and Washington, D.C., as well as galleries surrounding the Beverly area. His work was shown at the Denver Art Museum and in a traveling exhibit organized by the Dallas Museum of Fine Art. Jim’s works, blending abstract figurative and landscape modernism, reflect the elevation of the human spirit and the extravagant beauty of nature. Jim’s paintings are full of joy and a lust for life.

Jim pursued creativity in a different form the last years, visiting Clay Dreaming Studio to explore in pottery and ceramics – a new outlet for his vision. Jim was an avid gardener, creative cook and entertained often. He was an outspoken supporter of anyone in difficulty and voiced strong opinions on politics and life in general. A humble man who lived a simple and productive life, Jim inspired and befriended many, sharing his love of beauty and his zest for life with all.

Jim was a true friend to the North Dakota State University Department of Visual Arts and its students. Each year he gifted funds to establish the Department of Visual Arts James Falck Library, and he donated his vast personal collection of art books as well. He also created the James Falck Viterbo, Italy, Scholarship so one student could participate in a study abroad program with the Montserrat College of Art, an experience for some to be described as “life changing.” The magnitude of Jim’s prolific career in art will be celebrated and preserved at North Dakota State University, and his life’s work enabled him to fund the Jim Falck Endowment, which will provide scholarships and opportunities for visual arts students for years to come.

Jim’s surviving family includes his brothers, Thomas H. (Elaine) of Jamestown, N.D., and Neil of Fargo, N.D.; nieces and nephews, Tom (Susan) of Grand Forks, N.D., Carol (Harvey) Andres of Bixby, Okla., Leland of Wahpeton, N.D., Steve, Hartville of Ohio, and Jeff (Gail) and Don, all of Buchanan, and Nancy Falck and Mary Anne (Steve) Swiontek, both of Fargo. He was preceded in death by his parents; and his sister-in-law, Pat Falck.

One columnist interviewing Jim about his work on the Belle Isle Marsh Reservation described him as “… the real treat of his home. A gracious man with a big smile, a loud voice, and an even louder laugh who had a fire in his speech and a glare in his eye over the challenges of this project. A man with a simple exterior with a bright and colorful interior.”

ARRANGEMENTS: All who knew Jim are invited to an open house gathering of friends to celebrate Jim and share memories, on Saturday, May 3, from 2 to 6 p.m., at the Carriage House at Lynch Park, Beverly. Memorials may be sent to the Jim Falck Endowment at the NDSU Development Foundation, Fargo, N.D., the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., or the “Summer in Italy” program at Montserrat College of Art, Beverly.