If a region can seep into your soul and come out as artwork, it has done so with artist Gage Becker. Only twenty-four, he is a young artist interrupted from studying art by COVID-19. But that may not be a bad thing, as it has brought him an important commission from a big client: a mural to honor Silver Dollar City’s sixtieth anniversary.

Gage grew up in the Ozarks at Reeds Spring, after his family moved there from Kansas when he was two. His grandmother got a job at Silver Dollar City, and Gage has worked there for a decade as well, since he was fourteen, when he started part-time in service.

He decided to pursue art as a career after taking high school art classes.

Gage Becker

“As long as I can remember, I was always doodling, painting, or sketching,” he says. During his breaks at Silver Dollar City, he would be outdoors sketching. “I love history, and my mom has told me I have an old soul.” The vintage advertising hanging around the theme park inspired his own style, which he describes as traditional but with eclectic twists. For example, he might add some digital illustration to his paintings. He works primarily in gouache, an opaque type of watercolor.

His talent came to the attention of Silver Dollar City leaders when he created a scale model for the park’s fiftieth anniversary and presented it to the owners, Pete and Jack Herchend. That’s how he won the commission to do the mural.

Part of Silver Dollar City’s 60th anniversary mural.

“It was intimidating, painting at this place where I grew up,” he says. His artwork has also appeared in a video produced for the employees, or as they are called, “citizens,” during the theme park’s shutdown last spring, and he has other clients, who commission him to paint promotional material, businesses, landscapes, or buildings.

“I love architecture and capturing city scenes and roof lines,” Gage adds.

He took the pandemic shutdown of his classwork at Missouri State University in Springfield philosophically.

“It gave me some extra time to find my own style, my own techniques, and I’m finding myself,” he says. He was also gratifi ed and surprised that people were still coming to him, still wanting to spend their money on artwork. “You can tell what’s important to people by what they want to spend their dollars on during times like these,” he adds.

Silver Dollar City’s Fire in the Hole ride showing Baldknobbers

He would like to finish his degree, but his real dream is simple, he says.

“To create art.”