Annual Award

The PAD award for achievement in the field of public art is given annually to an individual whose contributions have greatly influenced public art practice. The inaugural award was presented in 2009 to renowned artist and educator Suzanne Lacy. In 2010 the distinguished curator, critic and educator Mary Jane Jacob was honored. Our 2011 recipient was Anne Pasternak, the President and Artistic Director of the groundbreaking public art organization, Creative Time. In 2012, media artist Ben Rubin was honored for his large-scale performance, installation, and public artworks that often involve close intersections with figures in contemporary culture. In 2013, Penny Balkin Bach, Executive Director of Philadelphia's Association for Public Art, was honored for her roles as curator, writer, and educator and for her ongoing engagement with artists, architects, civic leaders, city agencies, community groups and cultural organizations. Jack Becker is the 2014 recipient of the award.

Awardees are chosen from nominations made by PAD members. Award winners receive a three-year membership in PAD, which includes a subscription to the journal and all other membership benefits. Each year, the recipient accepts the award at a ceremony during the annual CAA conference, at which s/he makes a special presentation open to the public.

Please send your nominations for the 2017 award to our membership coordinator by May 1st, 2016.

Past Recipients

2018 Recipient - Judy Baca

In 1974 Judy Baca founded the first City of Los Angeles Mural Program, which evolved into the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), where she is the artistic director. Under SPARC, Baca has created public artworks throughout L.A. such as the collaborative and expanding The Great Wall of Los Angeles and more recently the interactive, digital mural at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex. She created models of community engagement and has brought essential stories into the public sphere by focusing on those of immigrant and LGBTQ communities, youths and the elderly, among many others. Baca’s inspirational career as an artist, scholar, and activist has immeasurably impacted urban visual culture.

2017 Recipient - Mierle Laderman Ukeles
2016 Recipient - Kirk Savage
2015 Recipient - Tom Finkelpearl

Tom Finkelpearl is the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. In this role he oversees city funding for nonprofit arts organizations across the five boroughs and directs the cultural policy for the City of New York. Prior to his appointment by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Commissioner Finkelpearl served as Executive Director of the Queens Museum for twelve years starting in 2002, overseeing an expansion that doubled the museum’s size and positioning the organization as a vibrant center for social engagement in nearby communities. He also held positions at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, working on the organization’s merger with the Museum of Modern Art, and served as Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program. Based on his public art experience and additional research, he published a book, Dialogues in Public Art (MIT Press), in 2000. His second book, What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation (Duke University Press, 2013) examines the activist, participatory, coauthored aesthetic experiences being created in contemporary art. He received a BA from Princeton University (1979) and an MFA from Hunter College (1983).

2014 Recipient - Jack Becker

PAD recognizes Jack Becker's longstanding contributions to the field of public art as founder and executive director of Forecast Public Art, established in 1978. As a public artist and program administrator, Jack specializes in projects that connect the ideas and energies of artists with the needs and opportunities of communities. He has organized more than 70 exhibitions, 50 publications, and numerous special events.

2013 Recipient - Penny Balkin Bach
Flynn Photography, courtesy Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia

Penny Balkin Bach is Executive Director of the Association for Public Art (formerly Fairmount Park Art Association), the nation's first private non-profit public art organization, chartered in 1872 and dedicated to the integration of public art and urban planning. As a curator, writer, and educator, Bach provides artistic direction for the organization. She works with artists, architects, civic leaders, city agencies, community groups and cultural organizations.

Bach is the Executive Producer of Museum Without WallsTM: AUDIO, an award-winning outdoor sculpture interpretive program for Philadelphia’s public art, available for free by cell phone, audio download, and on the web. In addition, her current activities include the exploration of innovative approaches to public art and its audiences, the creation of opportunities for newly commissioned works, advocacy for responsible stewardship of public art, and the promotion and interpretation of art in public places. She has been a participant on numerous local, national, and international public art juries and advisory committees. Bach currently serves on the national Americans for the Arts Public Art Network (PAN) Council and on the Mayor's Cultural Advisory Council in Philadelphia.

The author of Public Art in Philadelphia, published by Temple University Press, she has written extensively about public art and the environment. Bach wrote on private funding in Public Art by the Book, published by Americans for the Arts and the University of Washington Press. She is an essayist and editor of New•Land•Marks: public art, community, and the meaning of place, published by Ariel Editions, an imprint of Grayson Publishing. Other writings include “Placemaking . . .” published in Japanese by Town Art Co. Ltd, “Intimacy: transforming the impulse for Public Art” in the Spanish language periodical EXIT Book, and “Shared Responsibility: A Discussion about the Conservation of Outdoor Sculpture” in The Getty Conservation Institute Newsletter. Well known for her work with artists, she is responsible for developing the Fairmount Park Art Association’s pioneering Form and Function program and accompanying publication.

A BFA graduate of Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, she attended Tyler’s fine arts program in Rome and received a MA in Visual Communications and Social Organization from Goddard College in Vermont. Bach received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Moore College of Art & Design.

2012 Recipient - Ben Rubin

Ben Rubin is a media artist based in New York City. His work features in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the San Jose Museum of Art; and the Science Museum, London, and has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum in New York; the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid; the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris, and the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe. Rubin has created large-scale public artworks for the New York Times, the City of San José, and the Minneapolis Public Library. He is currently developing a site-specific sculpture called Shakespeare Machine for the Public Theater in New York and has just completed Beacon (2010), a luminous rooftop sculpture commissioned for the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.

Rubin has worked closely with important figures in contemporary culture including: Steve Reich, Diller+Scofidio/Renfro, Renzo Piano, James Polshek, James Sanders, Laurie Anderson, Arto Lindsay, Bruno Latour, Paul Virilio, Ann Hamilton and Beryl Korot. He frequently collaborates with UCLA statistician Mark Hansen; their collaborative projects include Moveable Type (2007), and Listening Post (2002), which won the 2004 Golden Nica Prize from Ars Electronica, as well as a Webby award in 2003. In 2011, Rubin and Mark Hansen will join forces with the Elevator Repair Service theater ensemble to present Shuffle, a new performance and installation that will re-mix text from three American novels of the 1920s.

Mr. Rubin received a B.A. at Brown University in 1987 and an M.S. at the MIT Media Lab in 1989. Mr. Rubin is on the faculty of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU and he has previously taught at the Bard MFA program and the Yale School of Art, where he was appointed critic in graphic design in 2004. During the Fall of 2010, he taught a new graduate seminar, “An Anecdotal History of Sound,” at NYU/ITP.

2011 Recipient - Anne Pasternak
photograph by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, courtesy Creative Time

Creative Time began commissioning innovative art in New York City in 1972, introducing millions of people every year to contemporary art while making sure it plays an active role in public life. In 1994, Anne Pasternak joined Creative Time as its President and Artistic Director. Her goal has been to present some of the most adventurous and historically important art in the public realm. Under her leadership, Creative Time extended it’s programming nationally, making it the only national public arts organization with programs that have reached from New York to New Orleans, from Denver to Dallas, and from PA to LA. Now, Pasternak is also taking Creative Time’s work global. Renowned projects under her direction range from exhibitions and performances in the historic Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage, sculptural installations in Grand Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall, sign paintings in Coney Island and skywriting over Manhattan to the Tribute in Light, the twin beacons of light that illuminated the former World Trade Center site six months after 9/11. She has worked closely with such artists as Doug Aitken, Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Mel Chin, Jim Hodges, Jenny Holzer, Sharon Hayes, Gary Hume, Vik Muniz, Takashi Murakami, Shirin Neshat, Steve Powers, Cai Guo Qiang, Paul Ramirez Jonas, Rudolf Stingel, Ugo Rondinone, and many more.

In addition to her work at Creative Time, Pasternak occasionally curates independent exhibitions, consults on urban planning initiatives, and contributes essays to cultural publications. She lectures extensively throughout the United States and Europe, and she served as a guest critic at Yale University.

2010 Recipient - Mary Jane Jacob

Mary Jane Jacob is a curator who holds the position of Professor in the Department of Sculpture and Executive Director of Exhibitions and Exhibition Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As chief curator of the Museums of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Los Angeles, she staged some of the first U.S. shows of American and European artists. Shifting her workplace from the museum to the street, she has critically engaged the discourse around public space, organizing such site and community-based programs as “Places with a Past” in Charleston, “Culture in Action” in Chicago, and “Conversations at The Castle” in Atlanta.

With the anthology Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art co-edited with Jacquelynn Baas (University of California Press, 2004), Jacob furthered her research into the nature of the art experience; this was followed Learning Mind: Experience into Art (University of California Press, 2009). A new volume—Modern Mind, forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in 2012—will look at twentieth-century modernism from the perspective of the twenty-first, focusing on the pedagogical and artistic impact of the migration to Chicago of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Mies van der Rohe, and its meaning for artists today who incorporate the modernist legacy into a new vision for the future. The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists, an anthology co-edited with Michelle Grabner (University of Chicago Press, 2010) has also become a classroom favorite. In 2010, she was awarded the Women's Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award and the Award for Achievement in the Field of Public Art from Public Art Dialogue.

Jacob also serves on the Editorial Board of Public Art Dialogue (Routledge, London), The Exhibitionist: A Journal on Exhibition Making (Archive Books, Turin), and the Board of Advisors, Public Art Review (St. Paul, MN). She is also on the Board of the Trustees of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar.

2009 Recipient - Suzanne Lacy

Suzanne Lacy is an internationally known artist whose work includes installations, video, and large-scale performances. Often investigating social themes, public policy, and urban issues, one of Lacy’s best known works to date is The Crystal Quilt (Minneapolis, 1987) a performance featuring 430 older women, broadcast live on Public Television. During the nineties she worked with teams of artists and youth to create an ambitious series of performances, workshops, and installations. Her work has been documented by both local and national television and is funded by national organizations including: the National Endowment of the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

Also known for her writing, Lacy edited the influential Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art, published in 1995 by Bay Press, a book that prefigures current writing on politically relevant performance art. She has published over 60 articles on public art.

Lacy is the Chair of Fine Arts at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. From 1987-97 she was Dean of the School of Fine Arts at the California College of Arts, and in 1998 she became Founding Director of the Center for Art and Public Life. In 1996-7 she co-founded the Visual and Public Art Institute at California State University at Monterey Bay with artist Judith Baca.

Active in Oakland cultural politics, Lacy was a member of Mayor Jerry Brown’s education cabinet and an Arts Commissioner for the City of Oakland.