FORT DODGE: Meg Beshey
Artistic vision impacting the community
The love of art that Meg Beshey has is more than just a personal interest. It’s in her blood.
Many members of Beshey’s family have been involved in art, allowing her to be exposed to it at a young age. Her father is an illustrator and a painter. Her paternal grandmother was an oil painter, and one of her dad’s grandfathers went to the Philadelphia School of Art.
“And on my mom’s side, my uncle was involved with the Business Committee for the Arts,” Beshey said. “And, basically, that was run by the Rockefellers, so he was at the pleasure of the Rockefellers to buy art for their many corporate places.”
She carried that love of art through her childhood and into adulthood.
“Then I taught for 27-plus years in various school districts,” she said. “Rolfe Community Schools, Okoboji. I came down to the Blanden (Memorial Art Museum) for six years as art educator and then I was at Fort Dodge for 15.”
While she loves teaching art to people of all ages, she especially enjoys working with children because of their curiosity about different types of art.
“They love to hear why you’re so passionate about art,” Beshey said. “Anybody can teach color theory, but when you tell them what happens, that little chemistry about what happens when you mix red and yellow together, what might happen when you put a bit too much yellow or a bit too much red. Then you let them experiment. Then it doesn’t just become a color; then it becomes a learning process.”
Beshey especially enjoys answering questions about art that children ask her. Not only does it allow her to share her passion with them, but it also allows her to interact with the kids and learn more about them.
“It becomes a personal engagement, and that’s what art always is,” she said. “It’s not just something you buy; there’s a reason why it attracted you to purchase that piece or look at it in a museum.”
It’s not just children Beshey teaches.
“I do classes for the Blanden,” she said. “I do classes for the city of Fort Dodge at C2 (Citizens Central). Sometimes I get hired to do private art classes for kids in the community for birthday parties. That’s really fun.”
Lately she’s been teaching art classes to children at Citizens Central.
Sometimes the parents even get involved in the classes, and Beshey said it’s sometimes difficult to tell whether the parent or the child is having more fun.
Beshey believes that art should be unique without strict rules.
“You get some that still believe the world will come to an end if you go outside the lines,” she said. “And guess what? Life goes on if you go outside the lines.”
Art takes up a major portion of Beshey’s time, but it’s far from her only activity.
She volunteers with Relay for Life, and even used her skills as an artist to help design an obstacle course, “which has now become a tradition between small children and the Fort Dodge Fire Department.”
“They come down there and they try to out-do the time of the children on the obstacle course,” Beshey said. “It’s made of things I just found around either my garage or if somebody doesn’t want something, I’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s perfect!'”
And, for the past 10 years, Beshey has been a local weather observer for the National Weather Service.
She has an electric thermometer in her backyard that was installed by the NWS, which she uses to determine the temperature and send the data to them.
Beshey said she has a morning routine where she goes and checks the previous day’s temperature, writes it down and sends the data to the NWS, all while she’s getting her morning coffee prepared.
She even has a unique way of telling when certain weather is approaching.
“If my hair curls in front of my face, it’s going to rain or snowstorm,” she said. “Even the high school kids picked up on that one.”
Beshey has had some unique experiences while reporting weather. She said one time the National Weather Service contacted her because somebody had reported “softball-sized cats.”
“They had said softball-sized cats were coming down, and they (the NWS) wanted to know what it was,” she said. “We still don’t know to this day what that is. Apparently it was very large hail that came down.”
Beshey said keeps up her volunteerism because of all she’s been through in her life, which includes a cancer diagnosis six years ago.
“It’s important to stay busy,” she said. “My parents were always involved in the community, so I feel that’s the biggest gift you can give to people. So when they are good to you, you give the good back.”
She loves sharing stories of positive events on social media, which she calls “passing on the good.”
“That’s my mantra.”
Staying busy keeps her healthier.
“If I just sat around, moped and felt sorry for myself, my cancer diagnosis would probably be a very different story,” she said.
It’s difficult to find a part of Fort Dodge she hasn’t had an impact on.
“There’s little tidbits of Meg all over the community,” she said. “It’s kind of fun. I’m not done yet.”