Renown sculptor Ray “Jake” Jacobson of Northfield has died.
Jacobson was creator of two of Northfield’s most prominent works of art, the Bridge Square Fountain and the bronze sculpture “Harvest” in the city’s riverfront Sesquicentennial Legacy Plaza. He was 91.
News of Jacobson's passing was confirmed by David Machacek of ArtOrg and Paul Krause of Paul Krause Creative and Dancing Sun Multimedia Wednesday afternoon. Both had worked with Jacobson on a variety of projects.
Jacobson passed away peacefully at about 6 a.m. Wednesday, said Krause, who talked with Jacobson's widow, Jeanne, this morning.
"It could be said Jake had a very gentle departure," he said. "Jeanne said she is getting a lot of support from friends and neighbors, and their family will be coming into town later today."
Machacek called Jacobson a "wonderful artist and a great guy."
"His demeanor was super encouraging," he said. "His insight was very well thought out and highly defined, so it was amazing to work with him. You hung on his every word."
Jacobson had been a vital member of Northfield’s art scene since 1955, when he began his teaching career at Carleton College. In addition to teaching art for more than three decades, he designed and constructed public art structures seen throughout Northfield, as well as Minnesota and beyond.
"He was a great man with a tremendous intellect," said Krause. "There are a lot of examples of his marvelous talent all around Northfield."
Machacek said a recent inventory of public works of art in Northfield showed that Jacobson created nearly a quarter of that art.
"He had 10 of the 47 we found," Machacek said. "His work is tucked all around: in Bridge Square, around downtown, at Carleton. He was an amazing artist."
Machacek assembled a slideshow of Jacobson and his sculpture that appears on the ArtOrg website. The first 10 slides show the Northfield sculptures and their locations.
In 2010, Jacobson was selected as one of first two Northfield residents—the other being the Northfield Arts Guild’s Myrna Johnson—to be awarded the city Arts and Culture Commission’s Living Treasure Award. The honor recognizes community members who have improved Northfield through their artistic contributions.
Jacobson was a proud recipient of that award, said Krause, who met Jacobson in 2006, when the two collaborated on the documentary "Harvest" that tells the story about the Northfield sculpture.
"He came to me after he found out he received funding for the Harvest sculpture," Krause said. "That actually was the first time we were introduced. I just wish I had met him before."
The "Harvest" documentary has aired on Twin Cities Public Television a number of times since its release in 2010.
Recently, Krause had been helping Jacobson on his memoirs.
"We're hoping to be able to finish that up and present it to the family," Krause said.
Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, May 12, at Skinner Memorial Chapel, on the Carleton campus. Visitation will be one hour prior to services at the chapel.
Bierman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. A complete obituary will be released in the coming days.
Jacobson's life and work are detailed on his website, www.rayjacobson.com.
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