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Finding the ethereal in Mayme Kratz’s work

I have heard Mayme Kratz described as one of the hardiest souls to be working as an artist in  the desert. There is an obvious reason for that accolade once you understand how the process of creating her gorgeous resin panels begins.

Kratz’s first step is donning her sun hat and hiking shoes and traversing the desert for bones, feathers, insect wings, seeds and other bits of nature’s castoffs — she espies beauty where others might not. And Kratz takes to our dusty trails all times of day, all seasons, and has even camped out under the stars in pursuit of inspiration.

Once the raw materials are in her studio, her ideas continue to take shape. Kratz’s strength is in her ability to lift the seemingly unappealing aspects of nature into compositions that become ethereal. It’s often because of the pattern or shape or thickness of materials; you can look at a work closely and still not realize that Kratz used, say, fish bones or bird of paradise seeds. Once the composition is done, Kratz spends many hours with paint, resin and various chemicals to complete the panels, a task that doesn’t scare her once she puts on her protective jumpsuit and goggles.

For many years, Kratz has worked in a garage-like studio south of downtown Phoenix. Despite showing her work all over the country, she is committed to making Arizona her home as well as a primary source of artistic expression.

Kratz’s newest works are on view at Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale through June 1, 2013, and not surprisingly the pieces continue to be amazing. For this show the theme is “Sometimes the Darkness” and thus some of the panels are thickly coated to produce a blackish background. The patterns on various pieces elicit thoughts of supernovas, galaxies and planets. Well, that’s just my take. Most likely, her work will take you on your own meditative journey.

The title piece, “Sometimes the Darkness,” measures 60 inches by 60 inches and employs cross sections of magnolia seeds. For the 12-inch-square “Eclipse,” the intrepid Kratz collected bones from a raptor’s nest, then connected them in a circular chain. “Sirius,” also 60 inches by 60 inches, is like a huge mandala, made of native grasses. These are just a few examples of Kratz’s aesthetic.

After you see the show, you can learn more about Kratz in the interview I did for the January/February 2013 issue of Art Ltd. magazine.

Mayme Kratz in her studio holding a small resin piece in its final stages.

Mayme Kratz in her studio holding a small resin piece in its final stages.

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