Forecast founder
Jack Becker

Jack Becker smiling with leaves and water behind

Forecast Founder Jack Becker Retired After 42 Years

Forecast founder Jack Becker officially retired June 30, 2020. Under Jack’s leadership as executive director from 1978 to 2016, Forecast became internationally known and respected as the go-to resource for all things public art. He founded the longest running grant program for public artists, launched Public Art Review, and partnered with hundreds of allied professionals—community developers, city planners, place-based designers, educators and many others—to realize the potential of public art within their communities.

Jack has been integral to the field of public art evolving from the commissioning of objects and wall treatments into the sophisticated and nuanced practice it is today. Support for public artists has been central to all Jack has done at Forecast. He relentlessly championed artists and uniquely understood their power to engage, inspire and creatively problem solve.

True to his legacy, Jack has kept the needs of Forecast front of mind during his path to retirement, choosing to stay on as a consultant at the organization to help guide the transition to Theresa Sweetland as new executive director in 2016.

“It is a testament to Jack, Theresa and the Forecast Board how smooth this transition has been, and that Forecast is stronger and more resilient than ever.”
Lea Bittner-Eddy, Forecast Board Chair

In his next chapter, Jack looks forward to dedicating time to his cherished role as grandpa. He would quickly add that he’s not going anywhere anytime soon, thanks to the global pandemic, and will always remain interested in and connected with the public art community.

Share well wishes or memories with Jack on his kudoboard!

Enjoy this feature on Jack and his legacy

Looking Back on the Jack Becker Era  A tribute to Forecast’s founder on the eve of his retirement.

Enjoy some public art content created by Jack over the past decade

From Public Art Review

A Change of Heart Public art can do a lot to promote the health of our communities —if planners understand all the new roles it can play.

Postcard to the Future “The city was my gallery, and I was charged with organizing exhibitions of CETA artists at places like the library, the government center, parks, plazas, and other public venues.”

Quality of Life Public artists and their collaborators are creating a more livable future.

The Gospel of Public Art “In public art, we don’t have a shared, overriding theology, ideology, or pedagogy. There are no standards, no universally accepted rights and wrongs.”

Reality Check “Public art exposes people to the ideas, energies, and talents of artists in a way that traditional and sequestered venues do not.”

One of Jack’s TEDx Talks

Public Art as a Community Building Strategy | TEDx Mahtomedi (below)
The world of public art is vast and diverse. Today artists have become creative problem solvers, working across sectors to address challenges faced by people everywhere. Can you imagine ways in which artists can address problems facing your community? Jack Becker helps you imagine, to shed light on the possibilities, and share examples of incredible, colorful, wild and crazy public art that not only adds visual beauty to our environment, but help address everything from environmental stewardship and social cohesion to community health and access to healthy foods.

Enjoy a selection of Jack’s favorite works of public art

These works represent—chronologically—a collection of some of Jack’s favorite public art initiatives, permanent artworks, and temporary projects from across the United States. Follow the live links in project titles below to learn more about these incredible artworks. Expanding the slideshow is recommended for best viewing.

1. Statue of Liberty, by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. New York City, New York (1875-86)
Photo by Jiuguang Wang / Wikimedia / Creative Commons license

2. Watts Tower, by Simon Rodia. Los Angeles, California (1921-54)
Photo by Katie Wilson / flickr / Creative Commons License

3. Ruckus Manhattan, by Red Grooms and Mimi Gross. Manhattan, New York (1963-76)
Detail of subway car interior, photo by Jack Becker 1975

4. Gateway Arch, by Eero Saarinen. St. Louis, Missouri (1965)
Photo by Sam Valadi / flickr / Creative Commons license

5. Spiral Jetty, by Robert Smithson. Rozel Point, Great Salt Lake, Utah (1970)
Photo by Soren.harward / Wikimedia / Creative Commons license

6. Running Fence, by Christo and Jeanne Claude. Sonoma and Marin Counties, California (1972-76)
Photo by Wolfgang Volz ©1976 Christo

7. Artpark artist residencies, 200+ artists and collectives. Lewiston, New York (residencies 1974-1984, Artpark performances ongoing)
Pictured: The Art of Walking program, at Niagara by Gene Davis (1979, reinstalled 2017), photo by Jordan Oscar 2020 courtesy Artpark

8. Roden Crater, by James Terrell. Painted Desert region of Northern Arizona (1977-present)
Photo by Dale Nations / flickr / Creative Commons license

9. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, by Maya Lin. Washington, D.C. (1982)
Photo by Lorax / Creative Commons license

10. Forevertron, and Dr. Evermor’s Art Park, by Dr. Evermor (formerly Tom Every). Sumpter, Wisconsin (1983-present)
Photo by sporst / flickr / Creative Commons license

11. Village of Arts and Humanity, by Lily Yeh. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (established in 1986)
Photo by Jack Becker 2017

12. Burning Man, first organized by Larry Harvey and Jerry James. Black Rock City, Nevada (annual since 1986)
Photo by Jack Becker 2018

13. Socrates Sculpture Park, established by Mark di Suvero. New York City, New York (1986-present)
Pictured: Yard Shadow: Nokia & Yard Shadow: Samsung, 2019 by Paul Kopkau, image courtesy Socrates Sculpture Park, photo by Scott Lynch

14. Heidelberg Project, by Tyree Guyton. Detroit, Michigan (established 1986)
Photo by Geronimo Patton 2010

15. The AIDS Memorial Quilt, by The NAMES Project. First displayed in its entirety in Washington, D.C. (1987-present)
Photo by National Institutes of Health / Public Domain, shown in Washington, D.C., 1996

16. ArtCar Parade, established by Jan Elftmann, Minneapolis, Minnesota (annual since 1994)
Photo by Jack Becker 2017

17. The Green Chair Project, by Joel Sisson and Chris Hand. Saint Paul, Minnesota (established in 1994)
Photo by Paul Shambroom 1995

18. Waterworks Gardens, by Lorna Jordan. Kent, Washington (1997)
Photo by Joe Mabel / Wikimedia / Creative Commons license

19. Storm King Wall, by Andy Goldsworthy. Storm King Art Center, New York (1997-98)
Photo by bobistraveling / flickr / Creative Commons license

20. Art Shanty Projects, by a collective of Art Shanty Projects artists. Minnesota (annual since 2004)
Photo by Jack Becker 2017

21. Cloud Gate, by Anish Kapoor. Chicago, Illinois (2006)
Photo by Jack Becker 2018

22. Fundred Dollar Bill Project, by Mel Chin. Nationwide, and Congress (2006-present)
Pictured: Safehouse, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2008 photo courtesy the artist

23. Portland Acupuncture Project, by Adam Kuby. Portland, Oregon (2008)
Photo by Yalcin Erhan

24. Before I Die, by Candy Chang. 75+ countries (2011-present)
Photo by Jack Becker 2013

25. Northern Spark, by Northern Lights. Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota (annual 2011-present)
Pictured: CarryOn Homes debuted at Northern Spark in 2018, photo by Shun jie Yong

26. On The Impossibility of Freedom in a Country Founded on Slavery and Genocide, by Dread Scott. Brooklyn, New York (2014)
Photo courtesy the artist

27. Mirror Shield Project, by Cannupa Hanska Luger. Standing Rock, North Dakota (2016)
Drone footage still image by Rory Wakemup, courtesy Cannupa Hanska Luger

28. Chroma Zone Mural & Art Festival, Creative Enterprise Zone. Saint Paul, Minnesota (2019-present)
Pictured: Untitled, by Fadlabi, photo courtesy Creative Enterprise Zone and Forecast Public Art