Former Benton resident making name for himself as artist in 3rd profession

By Lynda Hollenbeck
Courier Staff

Wednesday, December 6, 2006 11:15 AM CST

Terry Bean is in his third profession, and says it's the best one so far. From marketing director for Alcoa Chemicals to businessman to artist, Bean says he couldn't be happier with his life.

Beginning Nov. 30, he will have an exhibit at the Local Colour Gallery in Little Rock. A reception at 5 p.m. is planned on opening day of the show, which will continue until Dec. 2.

In addition to this exhibit, five examples of his artwork will be on display at the Arkansas Repertory Theater during its December production of The King and I.

Bean said he started painting in earnest when he retired from Alcoa in 1997. Before retirement, he had dabbled in art but mainly as a fan of others' works.

“I traveled in Europe and Asia for Alcoa and I would always visit museums because of my deep interest in art,” he said.

When he was ready to become serious about this interest, he enrolled at University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“I took all the studio art courses I could,” said Bean, who does both sculpting and painting. “I do portraits and landscapes in painting and figurative work in sculpting,” he said.

His works are on exhibit in several galleries, including the Fine Arts Center in Hot Springs, The Art Scene in North Little Rock, Local Colour Gallery in Little Rock and a studio/gallery in Florida, where he and wife Debi spend the winter months.

Some of his works are part of the permanent collections at the Arkansas Arts Center and the Arkansas Historical Museum.

“My artwork is a reflection of my spiritual energy and intense life experience,” Bean said. “I feel free sharing myself through art and time literally stands still while I am creating.”

He said the thing he relishes most about creating art is “the process of stretching my mind.”

Bean has won numerous awards, including the 2003 Delta Award in the Arkansas Arts Center's regional competition the 2006 Texas Regional Juried Exhibition, the 2006 Diamond National Juried Exhibit, the 2006 Arkansas Arts Council Small Works on Paper, the 2006 Kansas City Artists Coalition Juried Exhibit, the 2006 Scottsdale Artists School “Best and Brightest,” the 2005 Oval Gallery National Exhibit and the 2006 Four State Regional Juried Exhibition Winner Creative Artist Award. He placed second in the 2006 Diamond National Juried Exhibit and some of his works were included in the President Clinton Library inaugural exhibit.

Bean met his wife, Debi, an audiologist previously af filiated with University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, when both were art students.

“She's retired now, too,” Bean said. “Painting and traveling are our major activities.”

Bean teaches painting at the Arkansas Arts Center and has been asked to teach sculpting there, but prefers painting, “mostly oil painting.”

“In sculpture, I do bronze and marble castings,” he said. “I have my own studio and make my own molds.”

“I've never had more fun in my life,” said the man who resided in the Benton area most of his life. He now lives in Little Rock, but has business interests in both Saline and Pulaski counties.

Bean said it seemed “natural for me to want to work at Alcoa” upon completion of his education. Two grandfathers had worked there and his father, who was employed with the company for 38 years, started working there when the plant was built in 1952.

His family moved from East St. Louis to this area when Bean was a youngster. “There were lots of criminal elements from Chicago in East St. Louis, and the family immediately liked it here.”

The family first lived in Forest Heights, then moved to Brownwood subdivision, Bean said. He entered Ringgold Elementary School as a fourth-grader, then went to Benton Junior High, where he became a member of the Bulldogs football team. It was during this period that he delivered newspapers for the Courier.

The 1960 Benton High School graduate noted that he lettered in tennis and golf and said the golf team won the state championship.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering and also a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Arkansas. While at U of A, he was involved in the ROTC program, becoming a first lieutenant. After that, he was an Army instructor for two years and in 1969 began his employment with Alcoa.

Later, while doing graduate work at UA in Fayetteville, he met his late wife, Judith, who taught at Harmony Grove High School for many years. She died of breast cancer in the 1990s.

“About the time I decided to retire, my wife was diagnosed with cancer,” Bean said. “I was her caregiver through her illness. Alcoa gave me time to take care of her and her needs.”

Both of Terry and Judith Bean's children, Brian and Ashley, are physicians in Little Rock Hospitals. Brian Bean and wife Tami have two children, Anthony, 4, and Andrew, 2.

Bean doesn't believe he'll ever tire of his art career. “I'm highly motivated and I need challenge ... I won't be able to master this. No one ever has.”

“I learn something every day when I'm painting ... I'll do it as long as I'm physically able. My wife and I are partners in this. She is part and parcel of all of it.”

The two recently were in Oaxaca, Mexico, when a civil disturbance occurred, Bean said.

“It was 10 square blocks in the center of town. We viewed it as artists, talked with local artists to find out what was occurring and why and it was one of most fantastic experiences of my life. We of course brought back a lot of art from Oaxaca which is a vibrant art center.”

Examples of Bean’s works may be viewed at

Recent Paintings · Recent Portraits · Recent Sculptures · Painting Archive · Sculpture Archive

All images copyright © Terry Bean
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