Wednesday, August 03, 2016

RAY KATZ at the Krasl Art Center St. Joseph, Michigan repost of my article

I was traveling around southwestern Michigan this week when I came across the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph. The art center overlooks Lake Michigan along with several other tourist spots. Although parking around town was a bit of a pain, the art center provided a space and even let me stay there for a bit to walk around and see their sculptures near the center. I was reminded of the Art on Henderson project in Dallas. The twenty-one sculptures were installed in five locations in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, but what was really interesting were the models displayed in the art center. Each sculpture has a corresponding prototype of the work inside. So ideas were displayed at the center, while execution of those ideas were outside.

The art center had two main galleries that flowed into one another. One side had the Sculpture Biennial with the models, but the other side had the works by Ray Katz. Katz received an MFA from Wayne State University in Sculpture back in 1968. It is clear from his sculptures that craftsmanship of his objects has become precise, while maintaining a little evidence of his process. His show had simple shapes combined into a complex sculpture. I say simple, but really these are formal elements of thick straight lines, circles, squares, triangles, and curved lines. He even employed a spring shape in a few works. Then he combined them together to make interesting shapes that made you look around at every angle. Many works were small enough to look a little above. Also, much of the works were brushed aluminum which made the surface quite attractive. One sculpture titled Stargazer was a collection of shapes overlapping and then framed by a square with a cut out circle. My children enjoyed pointing out the shapes while I enjoyed the clean simplicity of Katz’s composition.

He also had large drawings that reflected his ideas in the sculptural works. Somehow, his drawings made his sculptures all the more interesting. His drawing style was loose in his shading and highlights, but tight around his objects. The drawings also helped tie with the Sculptural biennial. I find any concept work paired with product strengthens both works. However, in Katz case, the the sculptures and drawings were both finished products in their own right.

The Sculpture Biennial includes works by: Carl Billingsley, Jan Dean, Darrin Hallowell, Brent Harris, Suzanne Horwitz, Indira Johnson, Terrence Karpowicz, Tuck Langland, Travis Lanning, Albert Lavergne, Cynthia McKean, Margot McMahon, Brian Monaghan, Luck Russell, Jozef Sumichrast, William Walther, and of course Ray Katz.

The outdoor sculptures will be on display through September 2017. Ray Katz’s show titled Genesis will be up through June 26th. Both shows are at the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph, Michigan. Even if you are going to visit Chicago, I encourage you to wander your way around the bottom of Lake Michigan into the state of Michigan. Your excursion will be well rewarded if you are a sculpture fan.

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