Jack Becker, ’76
As an arts administrator and artist in his own right, Jack Becker has lived his life in public. It's possible you might have even seen one of his sculptural/environmental creations, but it's more likely you've seen the art he helped others make and put on display.
Becker's first brush with public sculpture was in 1963, when as a child the St. Louis native contributed something for a time capsule in the Gateway Arch along the Mississippi. As a sculpture major at MCAD, Becker learned from noted mentors Siah Armajani and Andrew Leicester. Then, in his own works, he often used found materials and unusual platforms—such as birds suspended over a busy intersection.
Soon after graduation, Becker was a Minneapolis city employee, using his Arts Commission post to foster creative surprises in public places. In 1978, Becker co-founded Forecast Public Arts, a nonprofit agency now over 35 years old, which has become a national and even global resource for public arts activities and ideas. In addition to awarding many annual project grants, Forecast publishes Public Art Review, a widely consulted journal. Becker regularly flies around the country to speak on panels and to large audiences about his very public passion.
In 2007, Becker and the journal received the Award of Excellence from Americans for the Arts. Becker has joked that he's a "social sculptor," using "found-object instincts" to assemble not just materials but also locations, artists, funders, and corporations into grand and multiple installations and events. Forecast's projects have put photographers, Tibetan culture, sculptures, and even green wooden armchairs in the paths of everyday citizens, in unlikely—but welcome—locations.