James Bakkom of Minneapolis has won the USITT's top award for a lifetime of creativity.
Artist and set designer James Bakkom was working with found objects before found objects were cool -- and he proceeded to make them cool. Bakkom, who did set design for the Guthrie Theater from 1964 to '74, became known for his "Garbage to Grandeur" workshops in which he taught designers on a budget how to recycle free and low-cost materials into fabulous props costumes and scenery. He went on to teach at several universities and do freelance design projects for theater, television adn corporate clients.
This year the United States Institute of Theatre Technology is marking Bakkom's many-faceted career with its top honor, the USITT award, to be presented at its annual conference in Forth Worth Texas, in late March.
More recently Bakkom, 76, has focused on painting and sculpture, including a "Scarecrow" series that can be seen on his website, jamesrbakkom.com. Minneapolis filmmaker Mark Wojahn made a documentary about Bakkom, "Getting Lost in My Own Art," in 2009.
Though he was diagnosed last year with Parkinson's disease, Bakkom told broadwayworld.com that he plans to attend the USITT conference.