Tom Becker

(b.1952; resides Orange City, IA)

On any given Saturday, five to fifty musicians interested in Blue Grass or Old Time Country music convene at the Acorn Feed and Seed store in Council Bluffs, Iowa. They call themselves “Acorn Pickers,” and Tom Becker spent a year photographing them with a 4-by-5-inch view camera. His subjects usually stand alone, occasionally in pairs, positioned in front of simple backgrounds that keep distractions to a minimum. The apparel of these people and certainly the instruments they hold suggest their common interest, but the emphasis of these portraits seems designed to keep the music second to the people who make it.

Tom Becker was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He holds a BS from University of South Dakota and is a three-time recipient of Iowa Arts Council grants. His work has been exhibited at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa; Wayne State College, Wayne, Nebraska; Luther College, Decorah, Iowa; Bloomington Art Center, Bloomington, Minnesota; and University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota. His work is in the collections of Sioux City Art Center, Sioux City, Iowa; Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa’ Sanford Museum, Cherokee, Iowa; Council Bluffs Library, Council Bluffs, Iowa; and The Hobo Museum, Britt, Iowa. Becker’s commitment to portraiture that gives a face to the people and culture of the Midwest is also evident in his projects Northwest Iowa Farmers, Rodeo Cowboys, and The Hoboes.

Rita Maloney: What drew me to country music is that my husband and I wanted something to do when we retired. I started playing the chord organ then the ukulele. I’ve been playing the mandolin for several years and I also play the banjo, sing and yodel.Rita Maloney: What drew me to country music is that my husband and I wanted something to do when we retired. I started playing the chord organ then the ukulele. I’ve been playing the mandolin for several years and I also play the banjo, sing and yodel.
Doris Sales: I love country music people. My guitar is a vintage 1940’s Gibson on loan from Harry Fronk until I’m 96, he says. I’m hooked.Doris Sales: I love country music people. My guitar is a vintage 1940’s Gibson on loan from Harry Fronk until I’m 96, he says. I’m hooked.

Museum of Contemporary Photography

at Columbia College Chicago
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